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and the 

By ibe Same Author 





and the 


A psychologist* s experiences tn 

occupied Holland 


Major A. M. MEERLOO 

M.D., F.R.S.M. 


Copyright 1945 



// .: J ;:. ^ INTRODUCTION 

THIS stady of psychological warfare differs from others 
published in this country because it was thought out and 
prepared in occupied territory. The author lived for more 
than two years under German oppression, and it was especially 
the sense of moral and intellectual isolation which urged him 
and others to study. He took part in various study groups, and 
this book may be considered as the result of such team work. 
It stands to reason that in the circumstances it has a certain 
emotional flavour, though it is perhaps none the worse for that. 

There is one important theme which needs to be emphasized, 
the theme of "Lest we forget." Men have on the whole such 
short memories., and human imagination is all too liable to fail 
where past misery is concerned. Between 1918 and 1939 people 
forgot too much. Because they had forgotten the nature of 
Man and his capacity to err, they did not understand what was 
taking place in the world. Even now" our imagination is in- 
sufficiently exercised. Even now we do not realize to the full 
that certain % vicious roots in human character may send up 
shoots which will wreck civilization. 

When we are at peace again we must not allow ourselves to 
overlook the part played by men's characters in the conduct of 
war. The politicians are too inclined to forget men's secret 
motives and their passions. This must not happen again. 

We ought to have a more profound knowledge of Man both 
as individual and as part of a community. This book deals, 
from a social and psychological point of view, with a few out 
of the many problems of war. After the conflict is over, these 
ideas and many others will have to be worked out fully, and 
hammered into the minds of men, so that they will never 



Introduction - - - - ~ 7 


1 . Two Days in Occupied Holland - - "9 

2. Mass Reactions to German Occupation - - 1 7 

3. T/fo "Detitschland" Complex and German Psychology 27 

4. Hitler's Psychological Weapons - - - 32 

5 . T$ Psychology of Radio Propaganda - - 44 

6. Democracy and "Fascism Within Us - - 50 

7. H0#> /A? JB0^ is Affected by Fear - ~ 5 3 

8. The Psychology of Courage - - - 59 

9. Delusion and Mass Delusion - - - 62 
10. T& Psychological Preparation of the Next War 68 

Epilogue : Total War and the Human Mind 76 


Two Days in Occupied Holland 

THE telephone is ringing in the pitch darkness of a winter 
morning. Will the doctor come at once, please, because Mr. X 
has been found unconscious in bed, breathing rather queerly. 
It's the same old story, I tell myself, getting out of bed: 
another suicide, probably with a sleeping draught. 

Fortunately it is past four o'clock in the morning., so I am 
allowed in the street. The motor-cycle, for a wonder, starts 
right away, and 1 grope my way carefully through the blackout 
and the drizzling rain. Half-way there I am stopped by a 
German patrol, but my papers are in order, an<J they let me 
pass. A nasty moment, for one can never get used to those 
green-uniformed individuals. 

Whan I arrive I find that I am too late. For hours we fight 
for the patient's life, administering antidotes and other treat- 
ment, but there is no helping him. Why did he do it? Well, he 
was just one of those who had no more strength, could no 
longer resist the strain of daily life, all the horror and tragedy 
around him. He was Jewish; he knew that things could only 
get worse for him, and he made his escape. The doctor's lot 
is not an easy one in such circumstances. We are used to 
fighting fate, but the German whip is too heavy for us. 

At 8.30 I go home. It is a chilly, desolate morning, and still 
dark, for we live under German time. The streets are full of 
pedestrians making their way to their offices by the light of 
little torches, shuffling along the pavement, shadowy figures 
in the blackout. There are very few bicycles, for the Germans 
have confiscated most of them. The trams are crowded. 

At home my little black-haired dog greets me with a joy 
which knows nothing of present miseries. There is much for 
me to do, so, having hastily swallowed two thin slices of dark 
wheat bread and a cup of substitute tea, 1 g out to the hospital. 
It is getting light and the greyness is lifting from the city. 


Many people would be surprised at the kind of work we 
have to do at the hospital, touching as it does on many ques- 
tions normally outside the doctor's province. We advise on all 
types of personal trouble, on how to cook wartime food, on 
what to eat, and there is no point at which the war does not 
enter into our problems. 

There is, for example, the problem of food. We are short of 
all foodstuffs. We are getting only about sixty per cent, of what 
the human body really needs, and the additional food must 
come from somewhere. It is not so much a question of im- 
mediate starvation, as of prolonged under-nourishment which 
affects the tissues and undermines resistance to disease. Before 
the war there were few illnesses which could be attributed to 
lack of vitamins, but now we begin to come across cases of 
beri-beri, "inflammation of the nerves," and indications of 
scurvy and pellagra, a state of affairs which was accelerated by 
the terrible cold at the beginning of 1942 when supplies of 
butter, potatoes and vegetables were held up. For special cases 
such as diabetes or kidney trouble, it is still possible to apply 
for an extra food ration, but the extra allowance for abnormal 
loss of weight has long ago been abolished. By now most of 
us would qualify for it. 

Much can be done with good advice, however, and the 
doctor in wartime has to be an accomplished cook. So I tell 
the mothers how to prepare a delicious porridge with bread 
and saccharin for their children, how to boil potatoes in their 
jackets to get all the benefit from them, how to make the most 
of the dried fish which, though very expensive, can still be 
obtiined. I tell them about the nutritive value of the onion, 
try to get them to experiment with vegetables which they never 
thoxight of using before, such as the stinging-nettle, and per- 
suade them to give up the traditional geranium in their little 
gardens for the sake of vegetables. Even so, a lot of thought is 
required to make both ends meet. There is not efiough fuel to 
prepare properly even the food that is available. But whatever 
the problem the doctor has to think up an answer. 


More difficult still is the advice which has to be given in 
cases of nervous troubles, troubles which arise not from 
"imaginary" causes, but from concrete disasters. There is the 
patient who has lost his wife and daughter and all his posses- 
sions in the bombing of Rotterdam. He opened a baker's shop 
with his two sons, which did not bring in much money, and 
which in a few months was seized by the authorities as a 
Jewish concern. After that his sons were sent to a concentra- 
tion camp, and when he received notices of their deaths he 
came to me completely broken. What can one say ot do? 
Another patient has had a letter instructing him to go to the 
police. A month ago he was detained for three days, under- 
going cross-examination. I advise him not to risk it, which 
means that he must become a fugitive, dependent on friends 
for his safety and his sustenance. Then a mother comes to ask 
me what shall be done with her daughter, who is keeping 
company with the German soldiers. Towards the end of office 
hours I get a visit from a man who was injured in the street 
fighting during the war. A nerve in the arm was touched, and 
now, after a year's treatment, it is beginning to function again. 

On my way home For the midday meal I pass a group of 
German soldiers marching through the streets and singing. 
They are not supposed to do this, and it always has an in- 
furiating effect on the people. Some of the passers-by make a 
few critical remarks and are promptly set upon by some heavily 
booted members of the W.A., 1 the military organization of the 
N.S.B. 2 Their enthusiasm leaves several victims among the 

When at last I get home, bitter at what I have seen, it appears 
that the central heating has given out. The compressed mud 
which is called peat by courtesy has finally refused to burn.' 
My wife has had to empty the radiator system, and for the time 
being we shall have to put up with a small wood-burning stove. 

1 W.A.*= Weer Afdeding the armed and uniformed Section of the Dtitch 
Nazi Party. 

2 N.S.B.= Nationaal Socialistische Beweging the Dutch Nazi Party. 


My office work will have to be done by the heat of an electric 
coil. On the other hand, there is something to be said for 
camping in one's own room, and when we have stopped 
shivering we notice the pleasant smell of burning wood. We 
eke out our meagre lunch with a little supplementary stew, and 
recall the camp fires of better days. Misfortunes seem to im- 
prove the atmosphere. We cheer ourselves up even further 
when we get the London news through some friends of ours. 
We ourselves cannot listen because our neighbours ate not too 
reliable. But it is something to know that the Germans in 
Russia are even colder than we are. 

In the afternoon some Jewish friends visit us. They have 
heard that there is likely to be another comb-out among them, 
and have come to take refuge. There will only be a cold guest- 
room for them, but it will at least be safe. When the danger is 
over, they will be able to go home again. Not many patients 
come. It is too cold in any case for a proper examination to 
be made. 

All kinds of rumour are in the air. People say that more 
hostages will be taken, that doctors will have to join the 
Doctors' Guild, otherwise they will not be allowed to practise, 
that the butter ration is to be reduced again, that half the city 
must be evacuated at once because of the second front. Dis- 
cussing these things we can never for a moment forget the 
state of siege in which we live. Meanwhile it begins to snow, 
and darkness falls, the darkness of a blacked-out city. 

The woman of the house is famous for her soup. She makes 
it with tins of cream of tomato, with some "maggi" cubes, 
with a few bones wheedled from the butcher, and with grated 
raw potato to bind the whole together. After that we have 
mashed vegetables, potatoes in their jackets with kale and 
powdered milk. The great event of the evening is a pudding 
of old bread and potato meal with some hoarded raisins in it. 

At seven o'clock we are off to visit some friends, at whose 
house a meeting is to take place. We put on everything we 
have in the house in the way of overcoats and sally forth into 


the snow, carefully avoiding those unfriendly objects in a 
blacked-out city, the lamp-posts. 

This is the greatest moment of the day, to be among our 
own people, talking freely, and forgetting the misery around 
us for a little while. One of the circle starts a discussion, and 
the rest of us join in, each of us warm once more with the sense* 
of unity, friendship and sympathy, now more than ever 

The hostess treats us all to excellent hot peppermint tea with 
little cakes (my diagnosis reveals a good deal of chalk in them), 
and she rounds off the evening by playing Mozart, the com- 
poser who of all others brings courage to faint hearts. 

In the meantime it has stopped snowing, and the moon has 
come out from behind the clouds. We have to be home by 
twelve (at first it was ten o'clock), so we set out to walk the 
long way home. As we go we hear a familiar roar. The search- 
lights are up and the anti-aircraft guns are barking. The steady 
throb of engines goes on. It is the R.A.F. carrying out 
another raid, music to the ears of all Hollanders. This is the 
beginning of victory Cologne, the Ruhr, then Berlin. The 
English are coming, and the Americans. They are carrying on 
the fight for us. 


The month of May in Holland is full of fragrance and colour. 
The sky is transparent; everywhere, even in the city, flowers 
and trees are springing into new life. The early mornings are 
full of the song of birds, and pleasant scents are blown in . 
through the open windows, with promise of summer. 

On one such morning, while I was still in bed, the door-bell 
rang. It is not difficult to imagine the shock which goes 
through you when that sort of thing happens. It generally 
means a visit from the police or the Gestapo. The maid was 
awakened so that she could open the door and give me a 
chance to get dressed and take up a strategic position near the 
trap-door on to the roof. My wife smoothed the bed to make 


it look as though it had not been slept in. It was not the police., 
however, but only an express letter from a friend with a taste 
for the macabre. 

The maid was able to take her place in the marketing line 
early that day. Later on my wife relieved her. The reward for 
all this waiting would be a few lettuces, and perhaps something 
for some Jewish friends who would not be allowed to go 
shopping till after 3 o'clock, when there would be nothing 
left to buy. 

Breakfast is a simple matter nowadays. There are no more 
eggs. The cheese we call "yellow rubber/ 3 for there is no fat 
in it. So that morning we had bread and home-made rhubarb 
jam, washed down with substitute tea. There are, incidentally, 
several substitutes for tea which are actually quite drinkable. 

The maid came back with the news that there had been some 
window-smashing during the night, including the house of a 
neighbour. There is no question of indemnity unless one 
belongs to the N.S.B. (the Dutch National Socialist Party), and 
as it happened their windows were all undamaged. A friend 
of ours wanted to know which would be more expensive, to 
become a member of the N.S.B.. or to buy new windows. The 
police detective, with a wink, said he thought a membership 
in the N.S.B. would be more expensive in the long run. It is 
not an easy life for the police now. They have to work for the 
traitors, whether they like it or not, and if they show any signs 
of resistance they are fired, and that is hard on their families. 

Breakfast was soon over. There was no morning paper, and 
if there were it would only be full of German propaganda. 
Letters from friends are rare, because of the domestic censor. 
So we communicate by word of mouth only. 

It was a day of anxiety for us, for we were waiting to hear 
what had happened to our friends who were officers in the 
army. For many days there had been notices in the papers 
summoning them to present themselves today at various 
centres. It was said that they would be coming back the same 
day. But I was not happy about it. There were rumours that 


trains were standing ready to take them into Germany, and 
knowing Nazi mentality one could well believe it. I wanted 
them to go underground, but they argued that they ought to 
trust the word of General Christiansen, the German com- 
mander in Holland, and that he had promised they would be 
allowed to return home. 

That night many women waited vainly at the stations; their 
husbands did not come back. Some officers of the Medical 
Corps escaped the round-up by claiming immunity under the 
Berne Convention, and they told us what had happened. 

All those who had acted in good faith had been herded into 
the trains and carried off to prison camps. Meanwhile other 
rumours of further arrests were going round. It was clear that 
the Germans were out to round up all the potential leaders in 
the country. 

What was going to happen? we wondered. How could a 
country carry on without its leaders? What was the next 
move? The next move, as it happened, was a further violent 
persecution of the Jews. 

There was nothing we could do on a day like that. One 
walked up and down the house, clenching one's fists. One 
could not even smoke, for there were so few cigarettes. The 
only comfort to be found in such times is in books, and indeed 
unhappiness and anxiety have notably stimulated the desire for 

That afternoon some friends brought us news of a Court 
session they had attended that day. Twenty Dutch youths were 
before the Kriegsgericht (the Military Court) charged with 
resisting the German Army, an act punishable by death. These 
boys, most of them students, had already been in prison for 
more than a year, and had been acquitted of the charge by the 
Marinegericht (the Naval Court). Berlin, however, was out for 
blood, and the Gestapo were determined to get a death sen- 
tence. Their actual crime was that they had distributed anti- 
Nazi literature, and for this eighteen of them died. They went 
to their deaths proudly and without flinching. The mother of 


one of them was a friend of ours. She did not cry, for what is 
the use of tears? But there was a longing for revenge in all our 
hearts. How is the world to be cleansed of this canker of 
injustice and cruelty? 

So the day ended, in discouragement and in hostility that 
was the stronger for being silent. As we listened in the dark- 
ness to the anti-aircraft guns we wondered: "Will they ever 
understand out there in the free world what we in our prison- 
house have suffered ?" 


Mass Reactions to German Occupation 

IT may seem surprising that at a time like the present, when a 
tremendous struggle is Agoing on in the world the outcome of 
which we cannot yet foretell in any detail, the reader should 
be asked to consider the effects in one country of complete 
domination by an enemy power. That domination, it will be 
said, still continues, and until the day of liberation comes the 
full facts will not be available. It is true that we cannot, as in 
a laboratory, isolate the phenomena of occupation, and con- 
sider them detachedly and objectively from every arigle. The 
time for that, if it is ever possible, has not yet arrived. 

What I am attempting now, however, is a more modest task. 
I want to describe some of the main trends of mass reaction 
to the miseries and the temptations of German occupation in 
the Netherlands, as I have observed them during the course of 
two years, while the facts are still fresh in my mind, and before 
the course of events has given them a new twist, and changing 
circumstances have overlaid and obliterated them. The relief 
and the emotion consequent upon victory easily blind the mind 
to what has gone before, and yet there is much to be learnt 
from this period in our history, much indeed which may help 
us to avoid evil reactions and future conflicts. 

It can be said that to the psychologist abnormal circum- 
stances are in the nature of experiments which history applies 
to humanity. Collective thinking and action are more marked 
in war, and it is in the special conditions of an occupied 
country., when each individual is undergoing the same trials, 
that the characteristics of the nation as a whole can best be 

My observations are based on more than two years spent in 
occupied Holland. I worked in a large clinic to which people 
from all classes of the population came with their problems. I 
had to give not only medical advice, but counsel on every type 
of difficulty. As the reader will have gathered from Chapter I 


they asked us about everything, from how to cook the 
food to what one should do if one was summoned to the 
police. There was no escape from the war there. Indeed, my 
patients regarded me as a family friend, one to whom they 
could talk freely. Apart from this there were the underground 
societies, with which I was in contact, and the various debating 
societies and social circles by which we contrived to keep in 
touch with one another. 

The. story of the invasion of the Netherlands is by now 
familiar to most people. The Na2is attacked from without with 
a well-equipped, highly trained force, from within through an 
active Fifth Column, and lest these two formidable weapons 
should prove insufficient, they employed blackmail, threaten- 
ing to bomb Utrecht and Amsterdam as Rotterdam had been 
bombed, if Holland did not capitulate. Even in war a com- 
mander does not lightly sacrifice the defenceless section of the 
population; th*e Germans knew that such a threat could have 
only one answer. And so they took possession, and the terri- 
torial independence of the Dutch people was lost. 

What happens when the enemy walks in? There is in the 
first place the complete disorganization of life, the personal 
tragedies in most families, the ruins which were once homes or 
familiar landmarks, the remembrance of the horrors of war. 
But perhaps the greatest blow of all is the loss of opportunity 
for collective consciousness and collective action. For meetings 
and assemblies are banned, and one man cannot communicate 
with another without fear. 

There exists in normal times, it must be remembered, a 
continual reciprocity between the individual and the mass. At 
one moment that which is individual comes to the fore, at 
another that which" is collective, Man is a social animal; 
especially in times of crisis he needs to feel himself a member 
of a community. This helps him to throw off his fears, his 
loneliness, his defencelessness. Instinctively he seeks for the 
companionship of others to increase his self-confidence. 

It will therefore be understood that in the first three months 


of the occupation the people of the Netherlands passed through 
what I might call a collective neurasthenic phase. Just as the 
presence of an infection in the body is not necessarily the signal 
for immediate illness, so it is with a great mental shock. There 
may be a period of incubation during which the effects of the 
shock work subconsciously: sooner or later,, however, the 
shock will influence the conscious life of a man in one of two 
ways, producing either complete mental breakdown, cul- 
minating perhaps in suicide, or else stimulating the mind to 

During these three months, therefore, a kind of paralysis 
took possession of the people. Men were exhausted, physically 
and mentally. They could find nothing upon which to base 
any hopes they had -nothing to think about save the miseries 
of their own situation. Their Government was in London, and 
this, in those days, seemed like desertion. There was no one 
to advise, no one to guide. It was small wonder, therefore, 
that many were inclined to listen to the soothing words and 
the many promises of Seyss-Inquart. People tried to mitigate 
their lot by finding justifications for the German invasion. 
And the Germans were not so bad after all, they said. You 
could not deny that some of their ideas were quite sensible. 

So the individual, out of touch with his fellow-men, bereft 
of his familiar leaders, confused by the rapidity of events, tried 
to form fresh ties, to establish a new community. 

It was a difficult period, and in the circumstances an under- 
standable one. Signs of regeneration were soon apparent, 
however. When Prince Bernhard's birthday came round there 
were general celebrations; the national emotion was focused 
on one subject, a first step towards unity. The young people 
began to regain hope, and to look about them. As national 
consciousness revived, there was, as always, an increase of 
interest 10 the glorious past of the country, and with it a spate 
of historical books with a patriotic tendency. 

The semi-political organization, the "National Union/ 7 
played an important part in this revival* At first tolerated by 


the Germans, later severely repressed, it became a focusing 
point for the spontaneous mass reaction against the oppressor, 
and an escape from collective apathy. The energy with which 
it was afterwards suppressed is the measure of the Union's 
success as a therapeutic agent. 

Another useful channel for mass consciousness was found 
in the churches. Here again the people gathered together for 
an act of worship of which the implications were national as 
well as religious. When all other forms of assembly were sup- 
pressed, this was of paramount importance. Collective unity 
increased the religious spirit, and this in its turn made the sense 
of unity more powerful, more complete. Even funerals were 
felt to be moving symbols of mass opposition; in their mourn- 
ing the people fortified each other against the regime which 
tried to keep them apart. 

Gradually, as mass reaction -gained strength, centres of 
resistance were set up of a more serious nature. The under- 
ground movement was begun, which through its secret press, 
its secret propaganda among the people, its secret study groups, 
organized resistance to the enemy. It was only gradually that 
people learnt that resistance must be organized. In the early 
days there were those who threw themselves into underground 
work because they thought it was so romantic. Such people 
were not only a danger to themselves, they were a menace to 
all their confederates. They talked too much and there were 
executions which might have been avoided. They took part in 
personal demonstrations more audacious than heroic. But 
gradually the right technique was learnt: how to conceal one's 
feelings, how to look innocent, how to keep one's clenched 
fists in one's pockets. 

Slowly, too, the Netherlands Government in London re- 
established its influence, and gave guidance to the people, 
largely by means of the wireless. In an occupied country, 
indeed, the radio comes to have immense importance in men's 
lives. If you do not turn on your set at all, because you do not 
wish to listen to enemy propaganda, then it stands as a mute 


witness of your defiance. But if you are willing to take the risk, 
you can hear what you wish to hear, and thus choose your own 
individualistic, non-conformist path. Thus the radio set 
became more than a means of receiving news from the outside 
world, more than a shield against Nazi propaganda. It was a 
symbol of the right of each individual to think for himself. 

The Germans used two weapons to persuade the Dutch to 
accept their regime. The first was propaganda, the second 
terror, and as the first was shown to have little effect, they 
resorted more and more to the second. 

German propaganda was designed, of course, to persuade 
the people of the Netherlands that it was in their interests to 
become part of the great Germanic mass. It was a campaign 
of ideological regimentation. The technique of such propa- 
ganda is based on that of hypnosis. There are a few simple 
slogans; these are repeated day in, day out, everywhere, in 
every conceivable form. The radio, the press, posters in the 
streets, public advertising, all say the same thing. In times of 
mass emotion, people are particularly defenceless against mass- 
suggestion. As we have seen, the mass must seek to identify 
itself with something, whether it be a leader or an ideal. 
German propagandists sought, therefore, to satisfy this need 
by offering objects for identification. They published charming 
little booklets about the Fuehrer; they offered the country 
national leaders of its very own; they publicized the great 
New Order, of which Holland was to be a part; they indicated 
racial groups and ideologies upon which the people were 
invited to expend their hate, thus dive .ting it from the Ger- 
mans themselves. It would have been easy to give in, easy to 
become a passive recipient of this hypnosis. 

That same doctrine of hypnosis, however, has taught us 
that there are non-suggestibles, the so-called non-conformists, 
as well as suggestibles. One conforms, the other opposes, but 
only those who can find an alternative identification will be 
able successfully to oppose suggestion. To the Fuehrer- 
identification, the people of the Netherlands could oppose their 


Queen, and all that is implied in the idea of monarchy within 
the democratic framework. To the slogans they could reply 
with other slogans. They had the ideals of democracy to set 
over against the Nazis' New Order. Most important of all, 
they opposed the insinuations of propaganda with moral in- 
dignation. When the first anti-Jewish measures were taken, 
there was a general protest and a spontaneous strike broke out 
in Amsterdam. People regarded this persecution as an attack 
on Dutch honour. Material disadvantages, even looting, they 
were willing to tolerate, but not this illogical terror. Such an 
attitude came as a surprise to the Germans. They understood 
moral indignation as a catchword to be used on a suitable 
occasion, not as a feeling independent of circumstances. It 
made them irritable and suspicious, and there were more 
executions. . 

Thus German propaganda failed to achieve what it had set 
out to do. Because the majority of the population had its own 
ideals, its own certainties, it could develop on this basis a 
sound critical spirit. The Dutch word for Ballyhoo Poppen- 
Jkastl&s become a keyword of the times. Even the^ Allies 
have sometimes underestimated this critical spirit in the 
masses. For in a hostile country propaganda educates the 
people to non-conformism. 

There is little subtlety in the second weapon of the German 
occupying forces, terror. The technique is that of the cat 
playing with the mouse, and the effects are cumulative. 
Between each phase there is a lull, during which lavish promises 
may be made. The uneasy population waits for the next blow, 
knowing that until there is complete subjugation there will be 
no relief. The figures speak for themselves 2,000 hostages, 
6,000 from among the best of the people shot, more than 
100,000 Jews killed, 500,000 in prison camps, an even larger 
number sent to slavery in labour camps, and in addition all 
those who await a miserable death in concentration camps. 
Such is the terror, against which the only weapon is .quiet 
courage, a courage which has to be sustained on insufficient 


fo.od and amid all the little daily miseries of life under occu- 

Though misery and danger serve to bring out the best in 
men whose souls and bodies can stand the strain, so unnatural 
a life must necessarily have its adverse effects upon men's 
minds. It is in the nature of war to evoke aggressiveness, and 
to deprive the individual of his normal restraints. The mind 
is filled with thoughts of revenge of Hatchet Day 1 violence 
becomes natural and even noble. It is likely, indeed, that there 
will be for some time after the war an increased tendency to 
crime and lawlessness. Beside the greater feeling of solidarity, 
one also sees an increase in self-seeking. People become more 
egocentric: each fights for himself, in a community where 
there is no justice and no charity. 

And what of those who gave in altogether? The number of 
them is not great. Mussert and his German friends were not 
able to influence more than z per cent of the population, and 
with these it was generally as a result of some psychological 
weakness. The German propaganda machine, in its perverse 
understanding of men, has deliberately considered what weak- 
nesses in human nature can be ferreted out to serve as a basis 
for the systematic influencing of men's minds and the propaga- 
tion of doctrine. In Hitler's Mem Kampf this method is de- 
scribed in detail. He shows how one must give frustrated 
people a feeling of greatness and a sense of their own import- 
ance, and then they will swallow any suggestion, however 
mad. Care must be taken to palliate their discontent, and lift 
it on to a higher plane. You can then count on the sheep-like 
docility of the people (Die tlingabebereitschaft d$r Massed). 

If one examines what type of men it is that has joined the 
N.S.B., betraying themselves and their people, one finds that 
a large proportion are the disappointed, the disgruntled, the 
slighted. -The rancour in their hearts has never simmered 
down. Here at last they saw a real chance to get even with 

1 Hatchet Day Bij/tjesdag. The Bjf/tfe was the weapon used by the people 
in the fight against French occupying forces in 1813. Now it is a symbol for 
the day of liberation. 


the world. How many misfits, how many psychopaths have 
we not seen since the occupation taking on positions of 
leadership? I personally know several who were already in the 
hands of the psychiatrist before the occupation. It was not 
only that the W.A. was recruited from patients in mental 
homes, but other types of social failure were systematically 
combed for recruits to the ranks of the traitors. Recently a 
notorious murderer was made head of the Ommen concentra- 
tion camp. There even exists in occupied Holland a special 
service for working upon discontented people. As soon as 
anyone has difficulties with his superiors the N.S.B. people put 
it right for him, provided be becomes a member. A director 
of a public utility company, not a member of the N.S.B., who 
was dismissed on moral grounds, received the very next day 
an invitation to visit the Nazis, so that he might be used; now 
he is leader of his local traitors' guild % A company director, 
who was dismissed for peculation, came back after a few weeks 
as a Nazi spy. The examples are legion. 

All this, however, applies not only to the traitors in Holland. 
Treachery lies deep in our hearts. Dissatisfaction is so easily 
fostered in our minds, and memories are guarded as holy 
things. It would almost appear as though some men want to 
be discontented, in order to overcome thereby their sense of 
inferiority. They nourish petty grievances and find fellows in 
adversity. They form groups in which future rebellions are 
prepared, of which the basis is emptiness and nihilism. There 
is not one single genuine ideal in the whole thing. 

Thus, if you get hold of a man when he is dissatisfied, it is 
not difficult to make a rebel out of him. He can in any case see 
nothing but the one thing that has frustrated him; he gnaws 
over it like one possessed, and like a madman he makes his 
own private world. Dogmatists, know-alls, people morbidly 
possessed by the sense of their superiority, spiritual prize- 
'fighters, are easy to foster. They may begin by tilting at wind- 
mills, but in the end their lust for destruction makes them 
destroy everything that is 'genuinely productive. The Fascist 


avalanche, with its 5 pet cent of justified discontent and its 
95 per cent illusion, was a striking illustration of this. The 
perverse exploitation of discontent will go on as long as people 
make capital out of men's vices and not out of their good 
qualities. Fascism has shown us clearly enough to what 
disasters this leads. 

It is a curious fact that relatively few people left the country. 
The ties which bind a man to his homeland are stronger than 
one might think. The journey is difficult and dangerous; only 
the young of heart and the adventurous will face it readily. 
People were often reluctant to take such a step, even when 
they knew that the Germans were after them. In some cases 
they almost passively surrendered to the enemy rather than 
escape. Many of those who did try to get away were caught; 
more than half of the refugees fell sooner or later into the 
hands of the Germans again. 

A word must be said about a subject which has deeply 
affected the morale of the people. There is little doubt that 
among the effects of danger and frustration of the times is an 
intellectual revival which manifests itself in a number of ways. 
There is intense .productivity in the fields of literature and art. 
A great deal of poetry is being written. Together with a 
deepened interest in religion there is an increased demand for 
books on philosophy. On the scientific side it is the same 
thing. Books on psychology and on technical subjects have a 
huge sale. The People's University (Volks Universiteif), one of 
the most influential institutions for the education of the people, 
providing both books and courses of study, flourished more 
than ever up to the time of its suppression. Everywhere study 
groups and discussion centres were set up in which people 
could take refuge from their troubles -in the calm discussion 
of intellectual problems. Such an intellectual revival is, of 
course, in the nature of a flight from reality, but it is one which 
increases, not lowers, our powers of resistance. 

It has become strangely quiet in Holland. Those who speak, 
speak in whispers. One's own life does not matter any more; 


hate and horror have conquered fear. All that remains is an 
intense will to resist, making use of every advantage that skill, 
courage and resourcefulness can give one. That is how a 
democracy wages war on the octopus of Nazi domination. 
Measures designed to make of the Dutch unthinking slaves 
have only accentuated their individuality, have given them a 
deeper insight into the fundamentals of freedom, have made 
them only the more anxious to separate facts from catchwords, 
truth from propaganda. The. Nazis think they can paralyse a 
people, and turn men into machines. They do not understand 
that all that is really alive must resist, and must thrive on that 


The "Deutschland" Complex and German Psychology 

I HAPPENED to be in Delft a few days after the Germans had 
invaded Holland. Our quarters had been taken over by the 
occupying force and their songs were resounding through the 
market-place. We were standing In one of the suburbs, waiting, 
waiting. Houses were in ruins, people were going about their 
business with bent heads. Our- experiences of the last few days 
had embittered our hearts. The Dutch soldiers were rebellious 
and hardly listened to orders. 

At the side of the road a temporary grave had been dug for 
some German soldiers. Their helmets had been placed on it 
and it was heaped with flowers. On a white board was their 
epitaph : 

Und Deutschland soil leben 
Wenn mr auch sterben mwssen. 

For a moment we were silent before this alien grave. Then 
the meaning of that unnatural statement flashed upon us. 
"Germany must live, even though we die/* But what is 
Germany without her people? Is her youth reared solely that 
it may die an exalted death? What the epitaph really meant 
was "Even though we must die a meaningless phrase 
.Germany will live on." Thus German youth is nourished on 
a myth, and here in this grave was buried the result of that 

How often were we to hear that magic word T)eutschland\ 
Deutschlandl Though it could have no effect upon us, it en- 
raptured the occupying forces, the traitors, and the faint- 

During the following summer I was staying in a small hotel 
in the Veluwe. The Fuehrer spoke one night. In an adjoining 
room Germans and members of the Dutch National Socialist 
party were sitting round the wireless set, listening in an 
ecstasy to that hypnotizing voice, deaf to the world round 


them. At the word Deutschland they seemed to tremble, to 
vibrate with a common emotion. All their dreams were pro- 
jected into that one word. It intoxicated them we could only 
shrug our shoulders. 

Much later, when we learnt to dread this powerful insanity, 
we often asked ourselves the reason for this curious Deutschland 
complex. The common people of Holland seemed to under- 
stand instinctively that here they were confronted with a 
delusion, which they could not define and for which they 
needed an explanation, even while they dismissed slogans and 
propaganda with a contemptuous shrug. 

It is easier to put the question than to answer it. It is, of 
course, dangerous to speak of a collective psyche unless we 
remind ourselves constantly that it is a literary image without 
reality. It is, after all, individuals who make up a collectivity. 
A bad or a good collectivity may be built up with the same 
individuals; the results depend on the social system. Experi- 
ments in prisons have shown that it is possible to construct a 
decent society with inferior individuals. Alternatively it may 
happen that under a bad social system conditions become 
chaotic even when the human material is excellent. The matter 
is further complicated by the fact that human unity is based 
not only on a transverse section that is, present relationships, 
but also on a longitudinal section that is, the ties of history 
and tradition. 

Consequently we have to take into account a triangle of 
co-ordinates that is to say, the individual, the history, and the 
social system. Only then is it possible to understand the psyche 
of a nation or a community. It is easy to mention off-hand 
some characteristics of the German psyche which distinguish 
it from other European nations. In the first place it is young. 
Not until the second half of the nineteenth century was it 
possible to speak of a united Germany. Even in 1870 the 
situation had not yet been stabilized. Military Prussia, Balto- 
Slav in origin, dominated the rest, and asserted its superiority 
over other states, such as Catholic Upper Bavaria. Neither 


emotionally nor administratively has regionalism yet died out 
completely in Germany. 

Again, the almost neurotic urge to form a unity which is 
characteristic of German political thought implies that Ger- 
many as a nation is young and self-conscious. The German's 
sense of collective unity is a primitive one, it is a participation 
mystique. It overrides individuality altogether and is felt as a 
kind of ecstasy. Deutschland^ in fact, becomes the fetish, the 
All-father, from which the German cannot detach himself. 
Such primitive emotions hamper the growth of that free 
critical spirit which is essential to a true democracy. 

The presence of these primitive tendencies in the midst of a 
civilized community has led to a remarkable state of tension in 
the individual. The German takes flight from his emotions in 
an iron discipline, in a passion for system and for thorough- 
ness. He is the type of nervous man who arranges the objects 
on his desk with excessive precision, whp cannot stand the 
least disorder in his papers, but whose life is nevertheless full 
of inner conflicts, and who in the end has a nervous breakdown. 
Systems are built up as a defence against the anarchy within, 
an intricate terminology becomes a bulwark against the un- 
known, and all this enables the Germans to delude themselves 
into thinking that they are well-balanced and possessed of true 
culture. In war they perform miracles of organization only to 
fail in the end through their complete inability to understand 
the psychology of other nations. In the present conflict they 
have omitted to reckon with the toughness of the English 
when fated with disaster, with the growing opposition of 
the occupied countries in spite of a regime of terror, and 
with the almost religious spirit of sacrifice of the Russian 

The German Massregeln result in fact from a completely 
faulty conception of the living organization, since they ignore 
the importance of spontaneity. The Fascist tendency to regu- 
late everything from above has primitive origins. It denotes a 
failure to realize that a community, to be successful, must 


control its own life throughout, and cannot have order im- 
posed upon it. 

As might be expected, German discipline imposes its own 
strain on the individual, the symptoms of which appear in easy 
emotionalism alternating with brutality. The German easily 
becomes "beside himself" with anger; he is susceptible to a 
mediaeval mass hysteria, and even to suicidal impulses. I have 
known many cases of suicide in Holland after the occupation 
which had their origins in a sense of guilt. Suicide was especi- 
ally frequent in the case of Germans billeted on Dutch civilians, 
who, as true democrats, did not mince matters and told the 
Germans what they thought of them, a state of affairs which 
soon put an end to billeting. 

Militarism still has a strong hold on the average German. 
It serves as a link between regions which otherwise have little 
in common one with another. It has a certain hold over even 
the most internationally minded socialist. You will find every- 
where in Germany an affection for the outward symbols of the 
military life, in the love of uniforms and pride in the weapons 
of war. 

-The contradiction ever present in the German soul between 
an outward discipline and an inner disorder, together with the 
sense of a mystic unity, promotes a defensive and suspicious 
attitude towards other countries. The German tends to be 
jealous of a national culture which he feels to be more inte- 
grated than his own. He is desperately afraid of being mis- 
understood, and if he is criticized is inclined to feel persecuted. 
From this it is but a short step to mass paranoia. "The whole 
world conspires against Germany," he will discover; "Germany 
stands alone against the attacks of a Jewish plutocratic clique"; 
or "Germany is a bulwark against world Bolshevism." Con- 
sequently the German is haunted by a latent fear, the fear of 
being followed, and that which he fears he provokes. This leads 
to aggressive action, which promotes a sense of wrong-doing, 
and thence a desire for punishment. It is this cycle of action 
and reaction which in its extreme form is referred to as sadism. 


Any consideration of German psychology invites the ques- 
tion: "What can be done about it?" Before we attempt to 
answer this question, it is necessary to ask ourselves what our 
attitude to crime and criminals actually is. Although there is 
a constant battle going on in the world against crime, there is 
also a secret admiration for it. Man is an unstable being, torn 
between his primitive past and his civilized aspirations. There 
is something romantic about the criminal, even to the gentlest 
of us. We have all of us met the type of exemplary citizen who 
possesses an exhaustive library of detective and horror stories. 
Since we have within us all something of the criminal, and 
therefore a conscious or unconscious share in his guilt, we 
cannot consider the question of his punishment without inner 
dissension. Here the lesson of Dostoievsky's Crime and Punish- 
ment needs to be remembered. It is a fact that the criminal 
hankers after his punishment. Therein lies the paradox of all 
violent action, that it seeks punishment, so great is the fear 
aroused in civilized man by his own violence. If this is applied 
to Germany, the inference must follow that before there can 
be any question of reformation and re-education, there must 
be punishment. Only on that basis can a psychological refor- 
mation take place. 

The German psyche seeks death in order that an abstraction, 
something more German than any individual German, may 
live. It hopes by death to atone for aggressiveness, and to 
escape from inner conflict. It is our task to release it from 
these burdens, and tq teach Germans that they need not die in 
order to live. 


Hitler's Psychological Weapons 

IT is essential that from time to time we should survey our 
knowledge of the psychological weapons of war, even though 
it may be impossible for us yet to make an exhaustive study of 
the subject. We may not be able to prove for many years which 
aspect, of this war will have had most importance, the material 
or the psychological; nevertheless it should be possible, 
through our knowledge of mass psychology, to draw some 
conclusions of value both to military and political strategy. 
Mass psychology, it becomes clear, is a weapon which must be 
used. As the gas officer must prepare himself to analyse the 
poison gases used by the enemy in order that he may counter- 
act them, so the mass psychologist must study the features of 
psychological warfare if he is to nullify its effects. 

In psychological warfare not only the military sections of 
the community, but the civilians also, take part. In fact the 
citizens, particularly the women, play a greater part than the 
soldiers. As a result of their sense of responsibility towards 
their children, women react more emotionally but less primi- 
tively than men. At dangerous moments they are more daring 
but less disciplined. Similarly one nation may be more sus- 
ceptible to psychological weapons than another, and it is of 
great importance to understand thoroughly what are the weak 
links in the psychological armour of the nation with which 
one is at war. Without such knowledge there is no calculating 
the mass reactions to an unexpected situation. Any student of 
the history of the war 1914-18 will be aware of the importance 
of such a study. There were the mass panics among the French 
armies in 191 7, the Italian collapse at Caporetto, the break- 
down' of the Central Powers in the summer of 1918, which 
was the result of a long process of psychological weakening, 
and which was becoming evident at the very time when 
Clemenceau and Churchill were still anticipating in their 
speeches years of war to come. When the collapse came, 


nothing could stop it. Self-confidence disappeared, nobody 
believed the press, turnouts circulated everywhere about the 
state of the army, about the Emperor, and had a paralysing 
effect on the nation. In recent times we have seen the same 
thing happen again, when in 1940 France collapsed, under- 
mined largely by psychological means. 

This inevitably invites the question. What is it that has 
enabled the Dutch people to withstand the psychological war- 
fare waged against them in their own territory? Why, overrun, 
defeated in the field, and governed by a set of men whom they 
knew to b^ completely ruthless, did they not suffer from moral 
collapse as ~ell? Why, when Rotterdam was bombed, did its 
citizens renx in calm, able to go about their duties in a quiet 
and practical way, while, on the other hand, eyewitnesses 
have told me 1 ^at when Cologne received its first big bombing 
there was evidence of suicidal panic among the population. 

In examining these problems it may indeed be asked whether 
we have made sufficient efforts since 1918 to analyse the 
psychological factors which lead to panic wrong strategy, 
mass exhaustion, and the undermining of the self-confidence 
of the people. I have in the past tried to collect together 
literature on the psychology of war/ availing myself of the 
resources at the disposal of the Peace Palace at The Hague. It 
would seem, however, that the Germans learnt more in this 
respect from the First World War than we did. They issued 
reports on the effects of propaganda, on the mistakes made 
during the war, on the morale of the troops, on the morale of 
the Home Front, and it soon became clear that such studies 
were prompted by the desire for revenge. They hoped to 
profit by their own mistakes in the next conflict ; Hitler's Mem 
Kampf became the textbook for the present-day strategy and 
tactics of psychological warfare, and may be regarded as the 
final expression of these ideas. 

Meanwhile the Allies were absorbed in the illusion of the 
War to end War. They became enmeshed in a net of juridical 
1 Meerloo: Homo Militant , The Hague, 1940. 



problems in their search for a "lasting peace." Thus they lost 
sight of the normal human psychological motives of aggres- 
sion, destruction and revenge. They omitted to analyse their 
own mistakes, and failed to remember that one corrects one- 
self best by watching one's enemy. Thus when the Germans 
began to claim leadership of many cultural undertakings, they 
did not suspect that it might be for strategic reasons. Further- 
more, instead of setting to work to remedy the poverty and 
depression of Germany, its leaders used the condition of their 
country to hoodwink the Allies, and to arouse the compassion 
of American charitable institutions, which rushed to restore 
Germany even before devastated Belgium had been rebuilt. 
It is essential that the same mistake should not be made again 
when the time comes. 

I therefore propose to analyse briefly in the following pages 
some of the psychological weapons which can be used to instil 
ideas in the masses. If there is a certain amount of repetition 
in what I say, it must be imputed to the fact that the essence 
of propaganda is in fact repetition; psychological weapons 
vary in degree and in kind, but not in aim, and the very 
monotony contributes to the effect. 


It is symbolic of man's attitude to life that he is able to 
envisage Providence, which postulates the ability to look into 
the future and to fear events in the future. An animal is only 
aware of fear directly, man knows fear of things to come. 
Through fear he can learn to protect himself against future 
dangers, but the more primitive fear reaction has still con- 
siderable power over* him. It may happen that the intellect 
will dominate a situation, and overcome the impulse to react 
violently against present dangers, but if the intellect is over- 
come and primitive instinct takes charge of the situation the 
result may be panic, followed by a paralysed apathy. This 
primitive fear reaction is seen in the so-called "shell-shock," or 
anxiety-neurosis, when the subject displays either an uncon- 


trollable and purposeless restlessness, or a cataleptic numbness 
and passivity, shamming dead as it were at the approach of 
danger. (For a detailed account of such reactions see pages 5 3 
to 58 of this book.) Such primitive reactions were experienced 
in the last war on all fronts, when interminable barrages and 
great exertion undermined the soldiers' nerves. The import- 
ance of fear as a psychological weapon is therefore obvious, 
^he aim is to awaken the animal in man, the animal whose 
fear is uncontrolled by reason, and which impels it to self- 
destruction or to attack friend and foe alike. 

Fear of gas attacks, fear of bombing, fear of the unknown 
horrors of "total" warfare, all play their part. The mere 
thought that the air they' breathe is no longer safe is sufficient 
to throw some people into a state of panic, as anyone who has 
watched a gas-mask practice will know. The first British troops 
to sustain a gas attack in 1915 were thoroughly demoralized 
by it, but even troops prepared for such an event are liable to 
a * nervousness out of proportion to the danger involved. 
Again, noise such as is produced by heavy bombing or by a 
barrage has an unnerving effect, quite apart from the normal 
fear of being hit. The ear is our most delicate organ for 
receiving impressions ; the god Pan blew on his horn to make 
people afraid, and modern Stukas are equipped with sirens for 
the same reason. Modern bombardment not only deafens the 
ears, it deadens the mind. Even the massive drone of aejo- 
planes can arouse feelings of panic. Finally, as the earthquake 
produces feelings of fundamental insecurity, so the thought of 
total war, of boundless destruction, deprives men of their 
power to think clearly and act sensibly. If all these factors are 
present mass fear can be so violent as to disorganize a whole 


It must, of course, be observed that such effects of fear are 
not always immediately apparent. In the case of Rotterdam, 
where, as I have mentioned, there was no panic during the 
bombing, many citizens exhibited symptoms of primitive fear 
reactions months afterwards. Similarly, soldiers who to all 


appearances had been able to carry on with their duties un- 
perturbed suffered from a latent fear-psychosis. 

That the weapon of fear was deliberately used by the 
Germans there can be no doubt. The whole policy of terrorism 
is based on the knowledge of the effects of fear on man. When 
fear reigns in the streets the people become cowed, passive, 
and are incapable of offering resistance. To achieve this 
desirable end in Holland, bands of booted terrorists used to 
go into the streets, and at the sound of a whistle would start 
beating up all the citizens they could lay their hands on. A 
less obviously brutal method of intimidation was carried out 
by means of films. The general s.taffs of Oslo, The Hague, and 
Ankara have all been treated by the Nazi film of the conquest 
of Poland and the punishment of Warsaw. "Sow fear before 
our armiesjenter^ was the prudent slogan of the Germans. 
We know, however^from the study of fear reactions that there 
comes a stage in which the subject is immunized against fear. 
In extreme exasperation men no longer fear death, and what 
before induced paralysis through fear arouses fury and a 
desire for revenge. 


When a people has been reduced to passivity by terrorist 
methods, their submissiveness can be intensified by less violent 
means, among others the Fifth Column. The tactics of the 
Fifth Column have been well thought out, and were first used 
by Hitler in fighting labour movements. The procedure is to 
create confusion, foment arguments, and thus cause indecision. 
This simple plan should be carried out in as many different 
ways, and as continuously, as possible. There are, of course, 
innumerable ways in which suspicion can be aroused; one of 
the simplest is to throw doubt upon the good intentions of an 
ally. Thus the French were told that the English would 
abandon them, that Mr. Churchill would defend his Empire 
to the last Frenchman. The Latin American countries are 
informed that Mr. Roosevelt intends to "absorb" them. 


In Holland, just before and during the fighting, the Fifth 
Column was principally engaged in spreading confusion. They 
formed small bands behind the front lines, shooting and de- 
stroying, and creating the impression that the enemy was 
everywhere. An essential part of their work was to criticize 
everything done by the Government or the Army, to belittle 
the defences and the strategic preparations for war, and thus 
undermine the fighting spirit of the people from the very start. 

Suspicion is one of the most dangerous psychological^ 
wg^^s^Tt the __dfe^^S]^^^^M^iJ t: ^ s ^ easlIjTcoSP" 
municable and so difficult to eradicate. A man whose suspicion 
has been aroused by derision, slander, or rumatir of any kind, 
sees the world through new spectacles. It is in this way that 
the delusion of being poisoned arises. In the atmosphere of 
fear and distrust it is impossible to see reality. A striking 
example is that of soldiers entering a conquered city. There is 
a fearful silence, and they know that somewhere a hostile 
population is lurking.^Because of their suspicion any noise 
may be given a false interpretation. The slamming of a door 
becomes the shot of a civilian sniper, the beating of carpets 
sounds like a conspiracy. In all wars one gets instances of the 
civilian sniper who afterwards turns out to have been pure 
invention on the part of the soldier. 

The Fifth Column had been instructed to spread rumours, 
any rumouts. The successful rumour-monger is he who, posing 
as one in the know, consents under promise of secrecy to pass 
on his information. The rumour spreads and with it the dis- 
trust bred by secrecy, and the effect is such as to transform 
level-headed citizens into a nation of conspiring children. 
Men are turned into primitive and helpless beings by the 
magic action of rumour. 

An effective means of arousing distrust is the spreading of 
rumours about the people's leaders, personal anecdotes of the 
malicious type, slanders and so on. This creates in the masses 
the feeling that their leaders have deserted them. The Fifth 
Column in Holland, of course, took advantage of the departure 


of Queen Wilhelmina to England to calumniate her and spread 
rumours concerning her "desertion" of her people. 

Persecution of racial and religious groups is based on the 
same technique. The insinuation that the Jews, or the Free- 
masons, or the Catholics are responsible for every disaster 
takes advantage of the tendency in man to blame others for 
his own mistakes* "If there had been no Jews, Hitler would 
have invented them." 

The scapegoat is a very ancient institution, and throughout 
history we find preachers of hate who instigate mass risings 
against a minority. Such movements cause a formidable under- 
mining of mdtale. Either a nation is sufficiently united in 
moral indignation to resist the spiritual strain which such a 
movement imposes, or else it accepts the slander campaign 
passively, each man hoping that at least he will be left alone, 
and that the suffering will pass him by, 


Hypnosis is an elementary human occurrence, the price we 
must pay for living together in a community. Communication 
presupposes mutual influence, unity presupposes reciprocal 
action and suggestibility. The most elementary ,of human 
contacts is thus based on primitive influence, imitation, and 
submission. In the primitive community tribe and tribal chief 
are one, and the chief's thoughts are imposed on his subjects, 
who accept them. Anyone who attempts to criticize is in 
danger of excommunication. 

Modern man is exposed to the same influences within the 
community, but he is not only a subject, he is also an indi- 
vidual who can place himself in mental opposition to fellow- 
members of the community. Nevertheless the community 
influences him so much that he does not easily oppose its 
collective ideas, since he needs to be sustained by them. 

It is therefore easier to misuse the powers of mass hypnosis 
than to establish safeguards against them. Hitler's method with 
the masses had been, in his own words, to "make fanatics out 


of them/' by concentrating on a monotonous repetition of lies 
and half-truths, using the technique of advertising and all the 
modern aids of the press, the wireless, and the film. Bread of 
a kind he provided, and circuses in the form of national 
demonstrations, mass meetings, athletic and military displays, 
uniforms and banners. He instilled into the German people 
the idea of the Chosen Nation, the Superior Race; he set before 
them ideals calculated to appeal to the most primitive instincts, 
together with a display of power such as to ensure their 
acceptance. Even German scientists were not all able to resist 
this hypnosis, but after all a scientist is also a man of the people 
and not above the laws of mass suggestion. And it must be 
added that Germany had been through a long period of fe*r 
and latent if not overt panic which made her people more 
susceptible than usual to magic influences. 


It was Napoleon who first made deliberate propaganda for 
his policy by means of a Bureau of Public Opinion. He 
visualized public opinion as something mechanical which could 
be directed towards a certain end by psychological means. 
The human spirit, however, is a living thing, capable of offering 
resistance, and of gaining strength under pressure from above, 
as Napoleon himself discovered when in the long run the 
French people were immunized against his propaganda. 

Propaganda uses the methods of hypnosis, and, on the non- 
scientific plane, those of advertising. Like advertising, it relies 
very ' largely on crude and simple stimuli, the appeal of the 
mediocre and second-rate idea to the mediocre and second- 
rate in men. As a pretty girl on the cover sells a box of choco- 
lates, so a film actress advertising a cause focuses the attention 
of the masses, and allows them to dispense with the necessity 
of thought. Erotic appeal is, of course, the special province of 
the film and the picture page in newspapers. The wireless^ 
which relies on the spoken word, has to make up for the lack 
of visual aids by its uses of the human voice, by its choice of 


vocabulary, by music and other sound effects. Thus, while the 
film interprets in pictures the erotic inclinations of the audience 
or its desire to personify its vague ideals in some god-like 
figure an airman, an athlete, or a political hero it is the role 
of the radio to express these ideals, these emotions, on a higher, 
intellectual or metaphysical, plane. There is much greater 
suggestive power in the spoken than in the written word, and 
much greater range. The listener feels himself linked to the 
voice which seems to be speaking across the ether for him 
alone, and yet, when the voice addresses him in its impersonal 
and godlike capacity, he feels himself just one of a vast chain 
of listeners all taking part in the same rite. 

It is not such a simple matter to test public opinion and the 
effect of propaganda upon it. There appears in fact to be a real 
and an apparent public opinion. The apparent public opinion 
is affected by suggestion, intimidation, and the hypnosis of 
propaganda. Even my own opinion at this moment is depen- 
dent upon the sphere of influence in which I live, and from 
which I can never detach myself. But behind this imposed 
opinion there is a basic public opinion, that of the intellect, 
which is constantly checked against reality. The strength of 
this opinion naturally depends upon the type of training of the 
individual or group, and the kind of political atmosphere in 
which one has lived. But it can be said that sooner or later 
the masses become conscious of the fact that they are being 
worked upon by a censored press and that they receive one- 
sided information. In spite of the danger people obtain papers 
from neutral countries and listen to foreign radio stations. 
Especially with radio propaganda saturation point is soon 
reached; people become bored with hearing the same voices 
saying the same things over and over again, and desire to 
listen to the other camp. The critical instincts are awakened, 
even in Germany, and it is then natural to suppose that there 
must be something to be said on the other side. For example, 
when the Getman radio announced that the Hood had been 
torpedoed, the man in the street immediately said that it must 


have been the Bismarck, which was in fact torpedoed twenty- 
four hours later. 

Thus all-out propaganda does not pay in the long run. It 
inevitably arouses suspicion, and once people start checking 
statements made" by their own Government against outside 
information, it is no longer possible to tell downright lies. 
The very fact that British radio stations, for example, are 
broadcasting their own version of the war forces the German 
radio to modify its statements. 


This is Hitler's own expression for that part of his war 
machine which is directed at men's minds rather than their 
bodies. Having given an account of the weapons used, it may 
be useful to review the strategy of psychological warfare point 
by point, as it was carried out against the European countries. 
It will be seen that the war against Europe started long before 

In the first place the ground was prepared by those "Fifth 
Columnists" who, by their destructive criticism, seised every 
opportunity of creating dissension, opposition, uncertainty, 
and cynicism. The positive side of this move, and the second 
step, was the dissemination of propaganda, concerning the 
"New Order/' the "New Freedom/' "liberation from the yoke 
of pluto-democracies," "liberation from the yoke of the Jews, 
the Freemasons," and so on. Such slogans had a hypnotizing 
effect: there was a suggestion of emotion and high ideals about 
them such as might recommend them to a disunited or dis- 
satisfied people. 

The next step was to administer a psychological shock to 
the world in the shape of the pact with Russia in August 1939, 
which in France, at least, completely paralysed public opinion. 
Meanwhile the fear* of war was being inculcated, by dwelling 
on the horrors of gas and bacteriological warfare, by hinting 
at secret weapons, by describing the effects of aerial bombard- 
ment on the population of cities. Some of this propaganda 


was issued In the form of propaganda for pacifism in enemy 

All this was intended to undermine resistance before the 
conflict actually began. Once hostilities had opened there were 
many other methods of attacking morale. Soldiers were told 
that they were being asked to fight unnecessarily, that their 
enemy had none but friendly feelings towards them, that their 
allies were weak, and were imposing on them. French soldiers 
received mysterious letters telling them that the English were 
not doing any of the fighting* but were making merry with 
the Frenchwomen behind the lines. Frenchwomen were told 
that their sons and husbands had fallen, and all for a lost cause. 
In the factories, in the big cities, there were agents to stir up 
labour troubles, and other agents to raise the bogy of " World 
Bolshevism/' Throughout the country, whether France or 
Holland, false rumours of invasion, and all- the frightfulness 
to follow, were spread. Such propaganda was intermittent; 
there would be rumours that some agreement had been 
reached; or that the danger of invasion was less, and the blow, 
when it came, would come during a lull. Civilian morale, too, 
was attacked through slogans. "Why. should our boys die for 
the Poles?" it was whispered, or ^Do you know there are no 
more eggs on the market? The English have bought them all 
up," or "The British Empire is breaking up. Why should we 
die for it?" One group would be set against another group; 
a country like Holland, which had never had a Jewish "prob- 
lem," would suddenly be encouraged to blame the Jews for 
their troubles, on the principle of "divide and conquer." 

Such are the weapons of psychological warfare. Though 
obvious to us now, only an expert in diagnosis is likely to 
detect them on the spot and at the time when they are being 
used. On the other hand, the influence of the psychological 
weapon is less than the "German strategists imagine. Before 
the wai: this influence was undoubtedly very great, and after 
the war it can be tremendous, but during the actual hostilities 
this weapon can only be effective at certain definite stages, 


The Psychology of Radio Propaganda 

IF we are to reach an understanding of the influence of radio 
propaganda, we must inquire ,first in what way people listen, 
and how they digest what they have heard. It is a fact that 
people as a rule listen badly, but, on the other hand, effects can 
be produced by impressions received unconsciously as well as 
those received consciously. However clever the argument, if 
it lacks the right emotional tone, it will not really penetrate to 
the listener. Our ear, or our mind, decides beforehand that 
which it is willing to receive. Once, however, the ear is on the 
alert, and the brain "tuned .in.," it is practically impossible to 
resist the suggestions which filter into the mind. 

We are all more or less inclined to receive ipipressions from 
the wireless without being really conscious that we are doing 
so. In certain circumstances it is even a rather dangerous habit. 
There was a boy in The Hague who was in the habit of listening 
to broadcasts from London, and who was so under the im- 
pression of what he heard that he actually whistled the latest 
English dance tunes in the street. He was not at all conscious 
of it, but the German police immediately noticed that he. was 
a listener to foreign broadcasts. Similarly there are various 
examples in psychological literature of illiterate persons who 
without realizing it learned complete Greek texts by heart 
through hearing them repeatedly. 

This gives us a clue to one of the great dangers of the radio 
if it is used unscrupulously for propaganda purposes: the 
possibility of influencing the brain to accept suggestions which 
consciously it would reject. Fortunately, however, other pro- 
cesses take place as well, as we shall see later. 

For the listener in occupied Holland, sitting in his quiet 
living-room and fortifying himself with a cup of bitter bramble 
tea, the broadcast word has something of magic ip. it. The 
great leaders of the world speak to him, and a kind of con- 


versation arises between listener and speaker: the listener 
assents, comments, perhaps even contradicts, with impunity. 
Whatever his mood, he can give way to it; he need not keep 
up appearances. It is as though people he has never met and 
may never see are talking intimately with him. They speak, 
moreover, not only to him, but .also to a vast public listening 
with him, to whom he feels united by the spoken word. Thus 
the radio reaches a potentially vast public in a more intimate 
way than any other form of communication, and it reaches 
this public through the most sensitive organ of the human 
being, his ear. That the public reacts in a more personal way 
to radio programmes than to articles in newspapers has been" 
proved by the "listening research" departments of many 
broadcasting services. 

I have mentioned the almost magical power of the human 
voice. It is only too obvious to anyone who has watched 
Hitler's followers listening to his broadcasts, entranced, swept 
away by the emotions aroused by his words and his very tone, 
intoxicated by sound. They are under the same spell as those 
mental patients who suffer from imperative hallucinations, and 
who, owing to an unconscious ^acknowledgment of lack of 
will and to inner dissension, think, they are ordered by some 
mysterious "voice" to carry out some action. 

But the knob of the wireless set is a power in the hands of 
those who are willing to make use of it. It stands for the 
freedom to select and to criticize. Rightly used, it can turn 
the unthinking masses into individualists capable of distin- 
guishing between fiction and reality. Even in occupied 
countries, where it is forbidden to listen to any but the official 
programmes, the people succeed in obtaining the broadcasts 
they want to hear, in spite of jamming, by means of potentio- 
meters and the so-called "Hun Sieve." Such listening brings 
its own reward in an increased knowledge of the world at 
large and in the sense of comradeship. Once, in Holland,- when 
I was feeling very depressed, I tuned in to an American station, 
and suddenly I heard in my own language a message to me 


from a friend in Boston. My loneliness and depression were 
effectively cured for that day at least. 

The Nazis were aware of the importance of radio propa- 
ganda right from the start. It will be remembered that when 
Dolfuss was murdered they seized the Vienna Broadcasting 
Station, and as soon as each country was occupied during the 
years that followed transmitters were immediately set up, with 
a service of broadcasts in the appropriate language. After the 
capitulation of Holland they arrived in Hilversum, the centre 
of Dutch broadcasting, with a transmitter and Dutch speeches 
on records, all ready to influence the minds of the people. 
Before the fall of France there were regular broadcasts in 
French from Stuttgart and elsewhere intended to undermine 
the morale of the French and to shake their confidence in the 
Maginot Line. 

The Germans know everything that there is to know about 
the tactics of radio propaganda. Their system is based on the 
simple rules of hypnotic suggestion. Repetition is used to 
soothe the public mind into a state of passive receptivity. The 
doctrines to be accepted are introduced in the form of half- 
truths and camouflaged lies, so as to appeal to the common 
man's tendency to say "There's something in it, you know," 
when he does not want to have the trouble of thinking for 

himself. Every^ ^2. as the need atises > 

particularly hatred against persons or personifications. Above 
all, Nazi radio propaganda is thorough. There is no item in 
the day's programme which is not part of the whole scheme. 

The one fact about radio propaganda which the Nazis did 
not realize, and against which they are unable to contend, is 
that it operates in accordance with the law of diminishing 
returns. The public, however acquiescent, will react in the 
long run, even without the stimulus of outside events. It is 
by now an acknowledged fact that public opinion in Germany 
is satiated, and no longer attaches much value to official broad- 
casts. The people may listen because they are- compelled to, 
but they listen critically and disparagingly, and attempt in so 


far as they can to verify all information. From my own ex 
perience 1 know how mnch value many a German officer 
attaches to the broadcasts of the B.B.C., to which he listens so 
that he can learn something about actual military operations. 
So strong is this feeling that the German radio authorities do 
make some attempt to vary their technique, even to the point 
of introducing the appearance of candour into their broadcasts. 
But while nothing is so varied as truth, nothing is so hackneyed 
as propaganda, and in the long run critical faculties and com- 
mon sense will demolish it. 

At this stage the question arises, What dees a free public 
want of its radio service? Many analyses have been made of 
listeners' requirements, and it has been established that, 
amusement apart, the public can stand more "strong meat" 
than is generally held to be the case. It wants its intellectual 
pretensions flattered. It wants the stimulus of emotions such 
as pride, courage and joy. At moments of national crisis it 
wishes to be encouraged in a feeling of superiority. Further- 
more, it wishes to be given new ideas, new points of view, not 
only to increase knowledge, but to give a basis for comparison 
and support. Hence the attraction of those apparently ridicu- 
lous interviews in which boxers and film actresses air their 
views on matters of international politics. It interests the public 
to know what a person who for other reasons is -a familiar 
figure thinks about subjects which are being discussed widely. 

In time of war the public in general and the people in 
occupied territories in particular require additional stimulants, 
and in dealing with the question of what kind of propaganda 
it is permissible for the Allies to use, this fact must be borne 
in mind. No man can live without illusions, even though he 
may be fully conscious that they are illusions, and it is the task 
of the radio to supply these. Yet it is equally necessary to 
explain the underlying reality as fully as possible. Every radio 
commentaror has to answer as best he may the question, Is 
it permissible to give biased news reports, or is the naked truth 
the best propaganda? A doctor faces the same problem in 


explaining the position to a patient who is seriously ill. The 
patient cannot stand the full truth, and must therefore be given 
an account of his condition which is to a certain extent false. 
In occupied Holland I have had personal experience of the 
effects produced by depressing or stimulating news reports. 
For the handling of news there is no hard-and-fast rule ; the 
capacity of individuals to bear the truth obviously varies 
immensely. It is, however, the duty of the radio to encourage 
hopefulness, to fortify those in adversity, without inculcating 
false "conceptions which may cause great harm both to the 
individual and to the mass. As a child who no longer believes 
in Santa Glaus continues to pretend that he does in order to 
enjoy more intensely the delights of Christmas, so the adult 
is able to obtain encouragement from propaganda even though 
he is well aware that it is propaganda. Provided it is used to 
stimulate morale and not to warp the character, such propa- 
ganda is justifiable. 

Thus it is essential that Allied propaganda should put before 
the world a plan for the future based on sound sociological 
principles, and it is precisely here that it is least successful. 
Such a plan must be simple and yet concrete. The Atlantic 
Charter, as it stands, is too vague for the peoples in occupied 
countries. Post-war problems must be handled in a more 
definite manner, for while few would disagree with the basic 
concepts of the four freedoms, there are many opinions as to 
the means by which they are to be attained. 

In addressing the Dutch people the task is comparatively 
simple. Whereas in Germany the people's confidence in their 
leaders must be undermined by showing them into what 
misery they have been led, to Holland the Allied radio can 
speak as democrats to democrats. The Dutch have enjoyed 
centuries of frae*!^^ which have 

given them gfiitj&wi toughness and the ability to think for 
themselves. From the Frisian farmer to the Brabant peasant 
ours is a nation -of personalities; opinions are slowly reached, 
but once reached are firmly held. Without the backing and 


encouragement of the London Government the people of 
Holland might have foundered ; with It they have been able to 
throw off the effects of Nazi propaganda. 

In our counter-propaganda, therefore, we must fight the 
enemy with his own weapons, increasing public morale instead 
of undermining it, forging national unity instead of promoting 
disintegration, encouraging the free interchange of ideas instead 
of imposing a lifeless uniformity, and thus create psychological 
defences behind which all Netherlanders can play a major part 
in achieving final victory. 


Democracy and Fascism Within Us 

IT Is interesting, in a world of warring ideologies, to specu- 
late on the relation between political ideas and individual 

We can distinguish two main trends in human thought, both 
in the sphere of politics and in that of the individual. The first 
may be called the authoritarian attitude to life, the second, for 
want of a better word, the democratic attitude. 

Let us first examine the nature of the authoritarian attitude. 
Contrary to the belief of many people, every man passes 
through an authoritarian stage, and becomes conscious of its 
control over himself when, at puberty, his personality, the 
authority within himself, begins to oppose itself to the 
authorities which have previously directed his life. 

Becoming conscious of one's self, of that entity we call "I," 
is a painful process. It is not a matter of chance that Welt- 
schmer^ is traditionally connected with this stage, for the 
process of becoming an individual means that the human being 
must separate himself from the security of his family, and he 
is In consequence filled with a sense of loneliness and fear. 
He is entering a new world, strange to him, where he must 
henceforth take upon himself responsibility for his actions. It 
is at this stage that many young people shrink from such a test. 
They do not want freedom which carries with it so many 
burdens, so much loneliness. They are ready to hand back 
their freedom in return for parental security. But he who sur- 
renders his individuality does not thereby shake off his fears 
and his loneliness. He develops instead a curious dual feeling 
of love and hate towards the authority. Docility and rebellion 
live side by side in him. At times authority is unconditionally 
admitted; at other times everything in him revolts against 
authority. This duality will never cease to exist, for all the time 
one side of his nature will continually attempt to overstep the 
boundaries which his dependence has Imposed. 


On the other hand, the individual who is strong enough to 
grow up mentally enters into a new kind of freedom. Freedom 
is an ambiguous concept, for in all its stages it sets before men 
new constraints. It involves the responsibility of taking new 
decisions, and confronting new uncertainties. Many young 
people cannot face such a prospect, especially if they cannot 
make a religious faith their mediator between the known and 
the unknown world, the result being that they fall back upon 
authoritarianism such as I have described, with its surrender of 
responsibility, its mental stresses, and its consequent emphasis 
of the ego. 

It is not easy to find a formula for the adult attitude to life, 
for it admits so many varieties. If we give it the label "demo- 
cracy," we still find it easier to say what democracy does not 
stand for, than what it does. We can say that democracy is an 
enemy of blind authority and of fear. If we are to define, 
democracy in more detail we must do so by comparison with 
the authoritarian attitude to life. Democracy therefore in- 
volves a confidence in spontaneity and in growth. It is able 
to postulate progress and the* correction of eviL It is able to 
guard the community against human error without the use of 
tyranny. It undertakes to regulate society by law and not by 
caprice. It is based on knowledge of human nature and not 
on desire for power over men. 

The freedom towards which democracy strives is not 
romantic, like that which adolescent youth desires, but re- 
sponsible. Democracy insists on the sacrifice to be made, and 
tries to dispel the fear which attacks men when they are faced 
with apparently unlimited freedom. It has less fascination than 
the authoritarian attitude, for it makes no use of myth, of 
primitive magic, of suggestion, and of other psychological 
means of working on the minds of men. It simply demands 
that men shall think for themselves, that each individual shall 
exercise his right of full consciousness, and his ability to adapt 
himself to an ever-changing world, and that a genuine public 
opinion shall determine what laws shall govern the com- 


munity. Thus democracy insists upon the recognition of the 
diversity of life. 

Like the adolescent, faced with new problems, who tries to 
retreat behind the skirts of parental authority, the individual 
members of a democratic state tend to shrink from the mental 
activity it imposes, and would like to take flight into a con- 
dition of unthinking security. They would like "the State" or 
some personification of the State to solve their problems for 
them. It is for this reason that they become Fascists. 

Thus we have within each one of us the seeds of democracy 
and Fascism, and thus the struggle for the democratic or 
authoritarian attitude to life is fought out in each individual. 
His view of himself and of his fellow-citizens will determine 
which political creed he prefers. In him exists side by side love 
and hatred, desire for power, resistance to independence and 
responsibility, and a longing to retreat from the difficult adult 
world into childhood. For it is only democracy which appeals 
to the adult in the individual; Fascism tempts his infantile 

And yet, one day, men will have to grow up. Compared 
with the long ages of human existence on earth our civilization 
is in its infancy. Sooner or later we must be ready to leave the 
dreamland of childhood, where imagination finds unlimited 
scope, and take our places in a world of limited freedoms. 
That world, however, can in the long run give us something 
better than any vision conjured up in childhood. 


How the 'Body is Affected by fear 

IT may be well at this point to illustrate the universal signifi- 
cance of human fear, which has been treated in previous 
chapters, by a brief description of the actual and profound 
effects of fear on the human body. 

It is a well-known fact that fear affects the body in a number 
of different ways, but the variety of the symptoms is perhaps 
not sufficiently realized. Experience has shown that not all 
reactions are to be considered under this heading, though in 
times of stress the uninitiated are apt to attribute everything 
to excessive emotion. 


The human body not only reacts to danger but also antici- 
pates it. In the case of immediate danger we refer to terror- 
reactions, but if danger is imminent we call them fear-reactions. 
Virtually there is no difference between the two. We cannot 
get away from the fact that as a civilized being man is easily 
frightened. His history and his culture are monuments to his 
struggle against the fear of death. 

In this chapter I propose to leave on one side the question 
of the subjective assimilation of fear and terror by neurotics 
and psychotics. I Intend to describe fully the normal biological 
reactions to fear as they can be directly observed in children, 
animals and primitive people. 

(a) Death Reflex., the general paralysis of functions, cataiepsis, 
the state which is popularly called "becoming stiff with 

(b) Mimic or 'Pilomotor Reflex^ changes taking place in the skin, 

the rudimentary vestiges In human beings of the old defence 
mechanism in animals which we call mimicry. 

(c) Flight Reflex, the Instinct to avoid danger by running away. 
In pathology this mobilization Is known as the emergency 
reaction of Cannon. It is characterized by an increased action 
of the sympathetic nerve system, an increased supply of 


adrenalin to the tissues, a more vigorous circulation of the 
blood in certain tissues, and by alterations in the secretive 
powers of the digestive organs. 

(d) Explosions., uncontrollable aggression, manifesting itself in 
the case of higher animals in the form of panic and various 
defence reflexes. In man all these forms of defence are 
mobilized simultaneously. Which organ reacts most depends 
orr the individual. 


When the psychiatrist Hoche states that everybody is what 
he calls hysferie-faehig, or liable to hysteria, he means that the 
primitive defence mechanisms outlined above may take place 
in anyone. To fear is simply to perceive the presence of danger 
before it is actually, there. We' know that the word craindre 
originated from the Celtic cretno., meaning to suspect or to 
surmise., and the Latin tremere y meaning to shudder. The higher 
our intelligence the more we are inclined to anticipate danger, 
and the more training we require to contend with immediate 

Three elementary experiences give rise to overwhelming 
fear In modern warfare: suffocation, noise, and indiscriminate 

The fear of suffocation has primitive roots, and all these 
ancient fears have been brought to the surface by the threat 
of gas warfare. Even gas practices have been known to Induce 
a kind of panic in those taking part. 

Noise plays an important part in modern warfare. The crash 
of bombs, heavy explosions, heavy gunfire, even the sound of 
the air-raid alarms have a violent effect on the ear, and relayed 
to the labyrinth will Induce giddiness or even complete un- 
consciousness. The French attribute the commotion emotion- 
nelle y which in its symptoms resembles cerebral concussion, to 
the physical and psychological influence of noise. The sense 
of hearing is extremely delicate: constant jars upon It weakens 
the power of resistance, as can be observed in soldiers who 
have been exposed to lengthy bombardment or a heavy barrage. 

The Indiscriminate destruction of modern warfare has much 


the same effect on us as has an earthquake. We have the same 
feeling that there is no safety to be found anywhere above or 
below ground. In shelters, pent up in a small space with a 
number of other frightened people, our fear is only increased. 
When one mortar grenade can cause 800 casualties, as at Fort 
Longin, it became difficult to a,void the feeling that destruction 
is inevitable. 

To these must be added the various secondary causes of 
fear, such as anxiety induced by rumour. Fifth Column activity, 
enemy press and radio propaganda, loss of sleep and so on. 


It is, of course, true that many fear reactions remain latent 
till long after the cause of them is removed. During the war 
of 1914-18 there were soldiers who spent years in the trenches 
without apparent strain, and who would then suddenly col- 
lapse; By 1917 such reactions were frequent, owing to the 
general exhaustion of the troops. Similarly it was noticed that 
fear reactions broke out months after the actual bombardment 
of Rotterdam, Much has already been written about the symp- 
toms of acute shock and war psychosis, but it is my intention 
to discuss the less-known influence of fear on the body, re- 
stricting my remarks to cases I personally observed at a main 
dressing station behind the Grebbe line, and to those which I 
treated in Holland after the surrender of the Dutch Army. 

(a) Physical Phenomena of the Death Reflex 

Many readers will be acquainted with the cataleptic stiffen- 
ing of the muscles after terrible fear. Patients may remain for 
days on end in one position. Some cases of this kind taken to 
our dressing station behind the Grebbe. line after the first con- 
tact with the enemy were brought round by stimulating their 
sense of smell with vinegar or ammonia. They were then given 
a cigarette, which made them feel better, but they remained 
apathetic and sleepy for a long time, losing all sense of time 


and of contact with reality. The same desire for sleep and 
generally apathetic condition could be observed in the case of 
civilians during the first period of the occupation. 

In the case of some soldiers affected by a bomb explosion at 
close quarters, there were symptoms which resembled Parkin- 
son's disease, flabby facial muscles, and a kind of decerebrate 
rigidity ? such as has been described by Sherrington. In the 
case of some civilians I observed true Parkinson phenomena 
as the result of strong emotional reaction. There was a rigidity 
brought on by right which manifested itself in a kind of fear 
to breathe, inducing in some cases even an attack of asthma* 
which could not be influenced therapeutically. In one case the 
result was ^ chronic nervous asthma. 

We may also consider as belonging to the same type of di~ 
encephalic reaction that is, changes in the vital point of the 
midbrain and in the function of the vegetative centres the 
frequently observed symptom of rapid emaciation. Although 
most people ate fairly normally during the first few days of the 
fight, they lost weight all the time. There was much loss of 
fluid owing to violent perspiration and changes in internal 
secretions. Many complained of paresthetic phenomena at 
the extremities, of a fe@ling as if their hands and feet were 
"asleep/' and of cold and discoloration in hands and feet. A 
soldier who had been brought to us in a stupor exhibited this 
symptom within twenty-four hours after the actual shock. 

(b) Mimic Reflex 

Man no longer changes the colour of his skin like a chame- 
leon and does not stick out his quills like a hedgehog. Yet 
under the influence of violent emotions strong reactions take 
the pkce of the primitive pilomotor muscles of the skin. 
Shuddering^ "making one*s flesh creep/' is an almost pleasur- 
able sensation to children; through such sensations they make 
for themselves a kind of defence against fear. 

Vasomotor reactions cause the face to change colour, giving 
the effect of being "pale with fright." Fear also induces a 


feeling of cold. During the war in Holland people complained 
of severe cold during the brightest sunshine. Some, again, 
were troubled by unbearable irritation, with in some cases a 
rash or eruption on the skin. During the first days of the 
occupation we came across many cases of real urticaria and 
desquamation. Spontaneous extravasation appeared on face 
and legs. Patients complained of a painful oversensitiveness of 
the skin and of real neuralgic pains. This was especially 
common among the civilians. In times of great anxiety aH 
people become more susceptible to pain. Even chronic 
arthritis made its appearance as an outlet for chronic fear. 

(<r) Flight Reflex 

If escape to a place of safety is impossible it stands to reason 
that psychological defence reactions will appeat s to provide 
the illusion of safety or to present a substitute for flight. Apart 
from these there are certain physical reactions which can be 
interpreted partly as substitutes for flight, and partly as a 
mobilization for defence^ everything is in a state of greater 
tension to resist emotion. 

In this connection the reactions of the vascular system are 
important. Palpitations of the heart and sudden sthenocardic 
troubles are very common. In the last war it was customary 
to use the term "field heart" for such a condition. Many weak 
hearts did not survive the violent emotions of May 1940; they 
collapsed as a result of .angina pectoris. 

The digestive organs are similarly affected. Among the 
symptoms noticed were retching, loss of appetite, pid diar- 
rhoea. Another frequent symptom was polyiiria. This was 
particularly humiliating in the case of soldiers forced to remain 
on duty in the line for hours at a time. I have met cases where 
civilians and "even medical men had to be treated for nervous 
polyuria for months at a time by a urologist, although one 
aspirin tablet is enough to postpone the diuresis and to ensure 
a good night's rest. Such frequent micturition interfered with 
sleep, and in times of particular strain children began to wet 


their beds again. Any aggressiveness within men "will find an 
outlet through the urogenital organs. There -was also evidence 
of strong perspiration occurring days after the fighting was 
over. Cases of Basedow's disease, where latent, appeared, and 
patients were brought into hospital -with acute goitre. 

I have never had so many cases of impotence as after the 
fighting. This is, of course, because any kind of fear may 
activate suppressed fears. On the other hand, while the feeling 
of being defeated paralyses the sexual functions, chronic fear 
may lead to stronger orgiastic desires. 

Fear may induce either extreme lethargy or complete In- 
ability to sleep. In the case of workmen on the airfields I 
noticed a constant desire to escape from reality through sleep. 

The so-called Ventil or valve-mechanism of KLretschmer, 
senseless crying, panic, fear-mania, have already been exten- 
sively discussed by others. Such fear reactions may manifest 
themselves very late, as though the fear continues to work 
underground. The consequence may be acute disintegration 
of the psychological functions, involving psychosis, and some- 
times here and there a case of epileptiform insult. Fear may 
have the effect of giving us more strength, more audacity than 
we normally possess, though after the physical effort Is over 
there is generally a strong reaction, taking the fcrm of acute 
depression and various neurasthenic troubles. 

Thus, to sum up, the physical reactions to fear may come 
under any one of the four basic categories death reflex, 
mimic reflex, flight reflex, and explosions. The symptoms are 
extremely varied. Any physician who has to look after people 
who have come Into direct contact with modern warfare is 
bound to take them into account. 


The Psychology of Courage 

IN time of war, when heroic sentiments are two a penny, it 
may seem a little bold to undertake an analysis of courage. A 
democracy, however, must be prepared to scrutinize its own 
slogans, and this in particular is a subject on 'which there is 
bound to be much confused thinking, particularly among those 
who are not subjected to danger themselves. 

I have had many conversations about courage with soldiers, 
with fugitives, with underground workers. It was a question 
which preoccupied them all, for they knew from how many 
different sources in human nature that bravery might spring 
which has for its symbol military decorations. 

In primitive peoples we sometimes find evidence of an 
iconoclastic attitude towards tribal gods and tribal customs. 
This revolt is, however, not regarded as courageous, but as a 
crime, and it is generally punished by death, or at the least by 
exile. The Greeks were the first to recognize in this audacity, 
the hybns^ something of positive value which in disrupting 
established modes of life might achieve progress. With 
primitive peoples courage is conceived as a communal ecstasy, 
by which through the operation of mass excitement the indi- 
vidual rises above himself and performs deeds which without 
this stimulus he would never have contemplated. After his 
death this heroism becomes part of the legends of his tribe. 

Here, then, we have the two kinds of courage, the personal 
revolt as against the collective ecstasy. When we are too much 
influenced by our primitive tribal emotions we may be inclined 
to confuse the two, but as democrats we should rate personal 
courage at a higher level. 

A feature of collective bravery is the ecstatic surrender, 
equivalent to a suicidal impulse, of the self. I have known 
soldiers to whom it seemed that only through their deaths 
could their ideals be obtained. They constituted themselves 
the human sacrifice for the good of the community. This 


feeling was generally accompanied by a melancholy, a detach- 
ment from life, which acted as a stimulus to sacrifice. A man 
must have lost' much that makes life worth living before he 
reaches this stage. I have met boys who, having lost friends 
or family, no longer valued life, and were ready to face danger 
for the sake of their country. Applause did not interest them, 
for they no longer felt themselves part of the ordinary world. 
They remained the unknown heroes of the underground 

More often than not a display of courage is the reaction to 
fear. In adolescence we train ourselves to conceal our fear in 
a desire to be appreciated and commended by others. There 
is nothing wrong with this training, since it teaches us to 
understand our own fear, to overcome it, and at the same time 
to accept it as an element in ourselves which has to be reckoned 
with. Nevertheless the make-believe necessary to the adoles- 
cent is out of place in the grown man, and can be carried to 
an extreme of theatricality by the propaganda of war. The 
Germans celebrate the deeds of the official "hero" with a 
pomp which is intended to impress and encourage the crowd. 
The individual decorated is merely a symbol. 

Anyone who has lived in a country occupied by the Germans 
finds it difficult to accept dispassionately statements concerning 
the courage of German soldiers in the field. There is no doubt 
that in battle, when carried away by that mass intoxication to 
which they are so apt, they may perform deeds of great courage, 
but individually, when alone and on unfamiliar territory, they 
are nervous and at a loss. Rather than criticize their leaders, 
rather than defend their own honour, they will use their 
weapons and their strength on the defenceless, on civilians 
who have no means of defending themselves, on Jews and 
other scapegoats who are completely at their mercy. 

The courage of this highly organized, immensely disciplined 
army is the courage of hysteria. I have seen German planes 
brought down in flames, the crews of which went to their 
death shouting Heil! Htil! Such mass intoxication makes 


death easier to face, but does not teach one how to live; it 
exorcises fear but cannot eliminate it. 

Though no man likes to be called a coward, yet there is no 
one who is not spurred on by fear. It is fear which gives men 
their moral armour against the dangers of life, which forces 
them to think and to divest themselves of their purely animal 
instincts. Until we are tried, we none of us know how we shall 
act in the hour of danger, s& little control have we over our 
own instincts. 

The highest form of courage is, of course, that which springs 
from self-control. Here the individual dares to place himself in 
opposition to the mass, to break away from tradition, to assert 
his own personality, and is prepared to suffer for the sake of 
his own conviction. Such courage is creative. It attempts to 
overcome the boundaries imposed by man's animal nature; it 
is ready to break new ground, it is necessary to all growth, 
indeed to life itself. 

Much as we may admire the self-sacrifice, the martyrdom, 
which we symbolize in the conception of "the unknown 
warrior," much though we owe to the soldier who does his 
duty and pays the price for human delusion and human un- 
wisdom, it is essential that we understand the nature of the 
herp worship we offer him. We give him admiration from a 
sense of guilt. We have offered up the unknown warrior as a* 
sacrifice on the altar of unreason, and in return we pay him 
homage, as we pay a debt of honour. He has made a sacrifice 
we might have made, and in return we tend to cherish the 
memory remorsefully in our hearts, without asking ourselves 
whether in fact the sacrifice was necessary. 

This is the lesson we have to learn, that of the two types of 
courage, that which consists in living is greater than that 
which aims at*dying. We have to learn that sacrifice of one's 
life, though it may be a necessary means to an end, is not an 
end in itself. As a free people, we must choose the affirmative 
courage of life, not the negative sacrifice of death, 


Delusion and Mass Delusion 

IT is a remarkable fact that the phenomenon of mass delusion 
has so far received little scientific treatment, though the term 
is bandied about wherever the problems of propaganda are 
discussed. Again and again particular political phenomena are 
labelled "mass delusions," but science is shy of scrutinizing 
these mass mental aberrations closely when they are connected 
with present-day affairs, though examples from history, such 
as witchcraft and certain forms of communal dancing, have 
already been assembled in some profusion. 

Delusion has been studied too much from the pathological 
angle. The psychiatrist who has encountered delusion in his 
patients has in the past lacked the philosophical and socio- 
logical background necessary to enable him to form compari- 
sons with mass delusion in the world at large. In dealing with 
patients suffering from megalomania or persecution mania he 
has tended to rely too much on mythological hypotheses, 
without considering whether these conceptions had any con- 
nection with a different type of thinking which now and then 
occurred independently in the individual and the mass. 

The mass psychology of the old days was indeed far too 
much tied to pathology, and it is only since the appearance of 
a younger group of social psychologists, such as MacDougall 
and Baschwitz, who as teachers or journalists were more in 
touch with everyday life, that new light was thrown on the 
subject of mass delusion. It is indeed not a phenomenon 
which a pathologist can examine under a microscope; it 
concerns histofy and sociology, and the growth in the scope 
and direction of men's collective consciousness. * ' 

To arrive at this stage it is necessary to divest oneself of 
various philosophical ideas which have dominated scientific 
thought since Aristotle. There is, for example, the doctrine of 
the identity of all thinking, the conception that all human 
beings think in the same way. Against this it can be pointed 


out that philosophers themselves have the utmost difficulty in 
reaching mutual understanding, merely because they employ 
different methods of thinking. For centuries science has 
adopted the Aristotelian dictum that thought is carried -on 
according to the established rules of logic, which apply in the 
same way as laws of nature. It was Bacon who pointed out for 
the first time, in his theory of idols, that the laws of logic cer- 
tainly exist, but that it depends on circumstances whether men 
make use of them: "Thoughts are often the theatrical curtains 
to conceal personal passions and vexations." Since the Renais- 
sance, therefore, it has been acknowledged that human feelings 
and personal inclinations mould and direct thought. Such a 
theory found its most moving expression in the works of 
Spinoza and Pascal. 

This is not the place to discuss whether we are justified in 
analysing human thought- psychologically. When we come 
into contact with the phenomena of mass delusion it is im- 
possible to do otherwise, for we are immediately confronted 
with the question, Do these phenomena arise from a particular 
adolescent phase of development in human thought? Such a 
question opens a new field of inquiry, which a too rigid theory 
of the nature of thought would not have revealed to us. 

The phenomena of delusion and mass delusion are in fact 
closely connected with all kinds of primitive means of trans- 
mitting thought. If we wish to examine these phenomena 
more closely we must study such means intensively, with the 
help of ethnology, evolutionary psychology and animal 
psychology. In such a brief survey as this only the bare out- 
lines can be given of the findings of these sciences, but even 
from the bare outline we can get an idea of the change of 
outlook from pathology to sociology which is involved. 

In examining the psychology of thinking through the growth 
and change of consciousness in human groups, it has been 
found illuminating to study the history of the growth of con- 
sciousness in the individual as he passes through the successive 
stages from infancy to maturity. We can find in fact a parallel 


between the stages of growth in the individual and in the 
human group. The psyche is constantly confronted with and 
communicating with the outside world, and at every phase of 
its development that world and its events are experienced 
differently. In the hallucinatory stage there is a feeling of com- 
plete oneness with the outside world; the intrapsychic separa- 
tion between the ego and the world has not yet taken place. 
The psyche is omnipotent., and all that is experienced by the 
self is projected into the universe and is imagined as part of 
that universe. The infant experiences the world in this way, 
and in certain types of insanity the adult will revert to this 
stage. In the next stage, that of animistic thinking, there is still 
a partial sense of oneness as between the ego and the world. 
The individual's experiences., his fears, his feelings, are pro- 
jected into reality. The child who bumps itself against a table 
projects into that table a hostile power, and hits back. The 
primitive tribesman, hunted by beasts of ptey, projects into the 
animal he fears a divine power, that of a hostile god. The 
entire outside world is in fact peopled with the fears of men. 
In the next stage, that of magical thinking, there is still a sense 
of intimate connection between man and the outside world, 
but man is now placed in opposition to the world, with whose 
mysterious powers he endeavours to negotiate. Magic is in 
fact the primitive strategy of man. He erects totem poles and 
sacrificial blocks, makes talismans and strange medicines. He 
develops a ritual to satisfy his need for coming to terms with 
the outside world. Which of us has never had the sudden 
desire to count pebbles or is not the jealous possessor of an 
amulet or any other object of which no one else must know 
the existence? In this way a man passes through various stages 
of consciousness, in which his thought, from having been 
aware only of himself and projections of himself, widens in 
scope till it is able to conceive of the outside world and man 
as two separate conceptions. There is something tragic about 
this process of becoming conscious of the outside world, in 
which man awakens from that primitive dream in which he 


was part of a great whole. Such sense of unity lingers on, 
and in moments of mass tension, or at times of crisis, it is 
towards this ancient experience that we reach. 

At what stage in connection with these manifestations of 
human experience can we speak of delusion? When primitive 
man placates the mysterious and hostile world by prayer to his 
totem animal, we do not call this delusion, but if a man who 
has attained to a more advanced stage of thinking relapses into 
a primitive habit of thought, then it is possible to call this 
retrogression delusion. Delusion is thus the loss of the sense 
of an independent reality, with a consequent relapse into a 
more primit" r e stage of consciousness. It is a petrification in 
our patholo^ "cal or socio-psychological circumstances. The 
detection of delusion will depend entirely on circumstances, 
upon the state of civilization in which one lives, the human 
group and the c ass to which one belongs. Thus delusion and 
retrogression are terms implying a social judgment. 

It would be as well to mention here several factors which 
promote delusion, so that we may the more easily understand 
the phenomenon of mass delusion. Retrogression may occur 
as a result of disease, particularly diseases of the brain, and 
it Is with this type that psychiatrists deal. Many brain diseases 
put out of operation the genetically youngest organs of con- 
sciousness the cortex so that genetically older organs of 
thinking come to the fore. The same effect is produced in 
hypnosis, which, by dislocating the higher forms of conscious- 
ness, reduces the subject to a primitive stage of unity-experi- 
ence, so that the hypnotist is able to impose his ideas freely. 
However, the causes of delusion are not purely organic. If 
consciousness becomes rigid at any particular stage, instead of 
remaining dynamic, you may get delusion. It is as though 
human experience requires to be confronted constantly with 
reality, if it is to remain living. Every time experience is 
petrified into dogma, such dogma stands in the way of new 
truth. For example, the delusion of a nation that it is "chosen"- 
in the way of international collaboration. When think- 


ing is isolated and can no longer expand, delusion may follow. 
Examples of this can be found in very small communities cut 
off from the world. On fishing vessels "which have been at sea 
a long time, religious mania, coupled with ritual murder, has 
been known to break out. In small village communities also 
one can find instances of collective delusion, often under the 
influence of one obsessed person. Every mental autarchy is 
dangerous, and if control and self-correction are lacking, 
delusion may break out, as can be seen in Germany today. 
Historically this is the case with every secluded civilization. If 
there is no interchange with other peoples the civilization 
degenerates, so that it is possible, as in the case of the Maya 
or the Yoruba civilizations, to find in the midst of the primitive 
conditions of their present-day life the evidences of a previous 
higher civilization. A break in the confrontation of the in- 
dividual or group with reality is thus inherent in the nature 
of delusion. 

What is mass delusion? It is the more or less conscious 
thinking of a group, viewed from a particular theoretical 
aspect. A primitive man will not see in the ceremony of devil 
exorcism an instance of mass delusion, but a man who has 
passed from this stage on to a higher level will recognize it as 
an animistic ceremony. Similarly our present-day civilization 
is full of mass delusions which can be recognized easily, 
viewed from above, but which cannot be detected if they are 
seen from within the group to which they apply. While the 
delusion of witchcraft has been banished, the delusion of 
racial inferiority and superiority has returned. Mediaeval mass 
obsessions such as Tarantellism and St. Vitus* dance are little 
known now among civilized nations; in their place we have 
mass meetings at which the crowd shouts Szeg Hez/ or Duce in 
a delirious ecstasy. 

Mass delusion can be induced; it is a question of the organi- 
zation on the apropriate lines of the collective consciousness. 
If one isoktes the mass, allows no outside corrective, and 
hypnotizes it daily with press, radio and film, with fear and 


pseudo-enthusiasm, any delusion can be instilled into it, and 
it comes to accept as natural the most primitive acts. 

Such delusions, so carefully implanted, are difficult to 
correct. Reasoning no longer has value, for the lower type of 
thinking is deaf to any thought on a higher level. The animist 
lives in a totally different -world, and no communication is 
possible with other worlds. If one reasons with a German 
who has been thus impregnated, he will sooner or later with- 
draw into his fortress of collective thinking, and will hide 
behind some emotional slogan such as Deutschland! Deutscb- 
land! The mass delusion which gives him the feeling of great- 
ness and omnipotence is dearer to him than personal con- 

To correct mass delusion is one of the most difficult tasks 
of democracy. Democracy pleads for freedom of thought, and 
this means that it demands the right of all men to test all forms 
of collective emotion and collective thinking. We have seen 
that if a civilization is to progress all rigidity in its structure 
and its consciousness must be combated. This is possible 
only if constant self-criticism, is encouraged. Democracy must 
face this task of preserving the mobility of thought, in order 
to free it from blind fears and from magic. The clash of 
opinions which is characteristic of democracy may not directly 
produce truth, but it prepares the way. 


The Psychological Preparation of the Next War 

HAS the international situation progressed to such an extent 
that we are justified in speaking of a German preparation for 
yet another war? Such a study might be regarded as arising 
out of a morbidly suspicious frame of mind, such as is en- 
gendered by the atmosphere of war. It seems clear, however, 
that much thought is being given by the enemy to the "question 
of future developments, while we have shown considerable 
reluctance to discuss preparations for the peace. Had we been 
more interested in problems of reconstruction, the war might 
never have taken place. There is still an intimate relation 
between action and reaction in the world, and in this case 
between political slackness and aggression. 

It is obvious that no systematic scheme for measures to be 
taken in the event of defeat exists openly in Germany, for as 
long* as the fight goes on this would have an adverse effect on 
the morale of the public. Signs are not wanting, however, that 
a door is being kept open for retreat, and it is our task to 
study these signs. We must not be misled as we were from 
1918 to 1939. The Germans haye not established an Institute 
of Geopolitics for nothing. Spch a deliberate attempt to study 
the means whereby Germany can infiltrate into other coun- 
tries has been masked by actusing other groups, such as the 
Freemasons, the Communists and the Jews, of the same trick. 
It is an old swindler's device, to detect in others the very 
roguery which you yourself propose to practise. In this way 
Germany has created many a sham problem for an argument- 
loving public to worry, hoping in this way to hicte the problem 
of Germany itself. We can therefore expect some kind of 
propaganda from Germany designed to disguise her true in- 
tentions for the post-war years. After the lasf war she made 
use of her position as loser to play upon the chivalry of the 
world. Every policeman arresting a criminal knows the 
tendency of the public to side with the unfortunate and some- 


what romantic victim rather than with the law. So it was with 
Germany. In the phrase o 1918, she "drew a draft on the pity 
of the world. " 

Such preparations can take many forms, but I propose to 
select a few of the main possibilities^ which can be roughly 
classified under the headings political, economic, financial, 
juridical and military preparations, the organization of pity, 
the "purification" doctrine, the cultural infiltration. 

Political preparation for the next war is carried out in many 
different ways. Fifth column agents and agitators are already 
familiar to all of us. A more subtle means of creating political 
feeling in favour of Germany is by means of the radio, the 
possibilities of which are insufficiently realized. The wireless 
cuts through frontier barriers, and attacks with psychological 
weapons against which a purely passive defence is of little use. 
It would not be putting it too strongly to say that this is a 
question of international mental hygiene, and a country which 
makes pernicious propaganda is a real source of infection. It 
will not be possible to shrug our shoulders at political radio 
propaganda anywhere in the world. A careful check will have 
to be kept on it, and some form of international control must 
be set up. Unchecked, Germany may well use the radio in 
peace-time as she uses it in war, to sow hatred, dissension and 
unrest wherever and however it may suit her. 

An even more dangerous situation may arise with regard to 
the men who put themselves forward as the spokesmen of 
Germany. They may assume a disguise which it will be diffi- 
cult to penetrate. In 1918 the German Social Democrats were 
made to pull the chestnuts out of the fire for the Prussian 
military clique. No military, no imperial signatures were, 
appended to the humiliating treaties, for which the Social 
Democrats were made responsible. In consequence the world 
believed that the war had converted Gexman militarism into 
a kind of international democracy. It was not till much later 
that it was realized that democracy was being used as a cloak 
for military preparations. Once again a democratic phalanx is 


making ready for the coming defeat. Can it be trusted to be 
what it seems? I am afraid not. There exists in America a 
Deutschdemokratiscbe TSewegung^ of which we all know the politi- 
cal programme by heart. It is, indeed, never difficult to find 
an attractive formula. But behind this movement are men 
whose connections with Fascism were undeniable, men such as 
Otto Strasser, Rauschning, Hanfstaengl, and others who are 
not free from the taint of Prussianism, such as Coudenhove- 
Kallergi and Bnfenibg. All this makes us suspicious of this 
kind of German democracy, and the thought cannot be avoided 
that such people are at least the unconscious champions of that 
Pan-Germanism which will presently infect the world once 

Remembering the pacifist propaganda which issued from 
Germany between the two wars, we should also be on our 
guard against a repetition of such tactics when the present 
war is over. The romantic ideals of brotherly love and pacifism 
all too easily find an expression which bears no relation to 

Though the details of the economic preparation for the next 
war are best left to experts, the main, trends will be clear even 
to laymen. Industries in occupied territories have been trans- 
ferred to Germany, with the idea that, even if she loses the 
war, Germany wilL remain the industrial centre of Europe. 
The more the surrounding countries are industrially dependent 
on Germany, the less they will be in a position to allow her 
to perish after the war. Hence the systematic economic and 
physical drain on the populations of occupied countries. Dis- 
creet use is made of such slogans as "Rotterdam cannot exist 
without a strong RuBrgefaet." Many German firms are already 
trying to establish future connections with surrounding coun- 
tries in exchange for present good-will. They promise, for 
instance, alleviation of restrictions now in return for favours 
after the -war. Such tricks will have to be closely watched. 

It must not be forgotten that (German products are them- 
selves part of political propaganda. Bayer's aspirin, and the 


products of Zeiss and Leica, acted as ambassadors for the 
country of their origin. Many Allied industrialists, though 
able to produce articles at least as efficient, did not realize to 
the full their value as propaganda, and were unaware of the 
national atmosphere which attaches to the products of a 
country and which enhances the value of its exports. 

On the purely financial side, the Germans are following the 
policy of throwing the money market systematically into dis- 
order, so that after the war the various countries involved will 
have the greatest difficulty in disentangling the confusion, and 
will prefer to start afresh. German banks and Nazi leaders 
have attempted to get into their control as much of the share 
capital of the occupied territories as possible, and' to transfer 
much of this to holding companies in neutral territory. It is 
likely that after the war it will be extremely difficult to detect 
German control behind apparently innocuous companies regis- 
tered in Switzerland and Argentina. Only firm action under 
international law will serve to combat this particular danger. 

We can be certain that at the present moment a group of 
German jurists is busily engaged on the juridical problems 
which will follow a defeat. The rule 'Kecht ist Was dem 
Deutschm Volke nui^t that is right which benefits the German 
nation still remains the foundation of German law. The 
lawyers will attempt to buttress German law with international 
law. They will try to prove that the property obtained by theft 
during the war belongs by kw to the German people, and that 
it cannot be returned to its previous owners. In order to 
oppose the deluge of legal subtleties with which we shall be 
afflicted, we shall have to base ourselves on the dictum of the 
Kellogg Pact, that he who prepares for war must be con- 
sidered as outside the pale of the kw. As the Dutch inter- 
national lawyer Van Vollenhoven says, one should at no time 
discuss. the law with a criminal. 

If, after the war, an international body undertakes punish- 
ment of individuals, and the setting aside and alteration of 
present German kw, this may create a precedent important 


for the world. It would in fact be the first time in history that 
an international body is permitted to hold itself responsible 
for illegalities committed in any part of the international com- 
munity. This would provide a loophole for the settling of the 
question of minimum rights in the international community. 
In a civilized world all citizens should have the possibility of 
appeal to international courts which can guarantee their 
minimum rights. It should be established that any isolated 
case of gross injustice can be held to violate international law. 
If we do not succeed in establishing this international responsi- 
bility for minimum rights, there will be no firm foundation 
for justice. 

The facts concerning the military rehabilitation of Germany 
following the 1914-1918 war are already well known.- It will 
be remembered that in. Germany publications on the mistakes 
in strategy made during the war were appearing as early as 
1919. The Allies themselves took comparatively little interest 
in such problems, but Germany soon became once more a 
centre for the study of war. If we are not careful it is possible 
that German experts will again disseminate the Prussian 
military spirit, for which so many people have a sneaking 
admiration, all over the world. It is a regrettable fact that 
many people still consider the German Geschneidigkeit marvel- 
lous. After the war it will be necessary to establish some kind 
of international academy for the study of war strategy and the 
psychology of war, the findings of which can be used by the 
international judicature. 

I have discussed elsewhere in this book the question of 
German exploitation of pity. If I return to it once more it is 
because I regard it as of paramount importance, though at 
the moment we live in a constant state of hatred of the 
aggressor, nothing is forgotten more quickly than one's own 
suffering: even the fiercest hate does not last long, and in a 
few years we shall find ourselves in more or less normal con- 
tact with our present enemies. Germany is bound to make the 
most of her opportunities to exploit the sentimental pity of 


the world. We shall be told of the injustices of VersaiEes, the 
cruelty of the hunger blockade, the horrors of the Inflation, 
all of which are presented so as to justify Nazism and the long 
series of aggressions which culminated in the present war. I 
know from experience that In some allied countries even now 
there is an Inclination to pity Germany and to adopt a soft 
attitude towards her. It must not be forgotten that the ten- 
dency to hysteria has increased in the world, and that hysteria 
is no basis for reasonable action. Both the appeal to pity and 
the feaction to such an appeal have a foundation of hysteria 
or at least of sentimentality. It Is not sentiment that the world 
requires, but common sense. 

If we are required to help Germany to recover, our help 
will have to be supplied in a sober and efficient way, with due 
regard to other claims upon us. In Holland we have had only 
too much experience of the way in which our help has been 
abused In the past. 

One of the most popular ideas In German pseudo-religious 
literature of the present day is that of purification through 
suffering. The suggestion is that Germany is going through 
Hell in order to emerge purified. Ideas such as Klaermg and 
purification theories are adapted from German pietism, and 
from the psychological point of view it is undeniable that 
there is some justification for the idea as far as a section of the 
German nation is concerned. But there Is one suspicious factor, 
which is that this purification is hinted at beforehand. It is a 
fact weE known to every psychiatrist that those who talk a 
great deal about inner recovery have generally undergone only 
a fake purification, which they are content to clothe in. fine 
phrases, but which is not borne out by their actions. The 
German language is full of beautiful words, which have so 
magical an effect that it Is often forgotten how little reality 
there is behind them. The two most important German 
pliilosophical schools of the years foEowing the last war 
provide good iEustrations of this. Between 1920 and 1924 
Theorie des Alsob had great influence; this theory 


of "as if** was used as a philosophical glorification of hypocrisy. 
It may be said that the whole Weirnar Republic acted "as if," 
while underneath was a fermenting mass of irrational feeling 
which presently sought its theoretical justification in Heideg- 
ger's ExtstMs^pbilosopbie. Thus there was first the glorification 
of pretence, followed by the justification of existence and of 
expansion-.* The theory of I^ebensraum may akeady be found 
here. Even a philosophical system may have an emotional 
background, and it will be well for us to remember this when 
we are deluged with a flood of German semi-philosophical 
propaganda after the war. 

The Germans kr.ow very well how to use cultural propa- 
ganda. When they have no more military weapons at their 
disposal they will still be able to fall back on their culture, and 
continue to spread the Deutsche Geist everywhere. As long as 
the world prefers a theatrical approach to life, so long will the 
German spirit prevail. They may misuse their classical music 
for this end, they will exploit their light music, their operettas, 
their romantic films, their histories of art, their science, and 
will twist the study of history itself to serve their ends, as the 
Nazis have done for so long. 

What can we do now to prevent the preparation for a new 
war? We can be certain ia the first place that concrete measures, 
reconstruction, political rearrangements of a practical nature, 
are not sufficient. The diagnosis of the emotional side of such 
a movement is just as important. If we understand the psycho- 
logical background for German actions, we are already a long 
way to being armed against their effects, and it must be ad- 
mitted that the Allies have for a long time been blind to the 
mass emotions which rule in Germany. 

It is not my purpose, therefore, to put forward plans upon 
which to base a more rational world, but rather to point out 
those psychological defects which are likely to hamper its 
construction. There are, however, three fundamentals for any 
successful reconstruction, which 1 will briefly recapitulate in 


Firstly, there is the internationalization of war strategy. An 
international institute set up to consider power in terms of 
military knowledge could eventually form the basis of a police 
force in the service of international jurisdiction. 

Secondly, it is absolutely essential that there should be in 
operation an international statute dealing with the fundamental 
rights of human beings* With the breaking down of barriers 
between the countries through improvement in communica- 
tions and through the wireless, it will become more 'and more 
impossible for the fundamental legal codes and ways of life to 
differ much from one country to another. Since we cannot cut 
ourselves off from one another, we might as well take rational 
steps towards unity* This means that our sense of responsi- 
bility must be widened. As long as we refuse to hold ourselves 
responsible for the minimum rights of all citizens, irrespective 
of country, there will always remain friction and aggression 
promoting fear and inviting crime. For lawlessness and 
security cannot live side by side in the world. 

This brings us to the third fundamental necessity for a new 
world order, the organization of an actively democratic edu- 
cation* A democratic education implies education in self- 
knowledge and in the theory of society. Such an education is 
based on the understanding of men as individuals and in tke 
mass. It will have to teach people how much of their freedom 
they must sacrifice in order to live in harmony with others. 
They must learn to realize that law in a democracy acts as: 
self-correction for the community. Children have in the past 
been taught many abstract formulae but have been given no 
clear idea of the world around them. It remains for us to 
discover how to educate the children of today and tomorrow 
to make the best use of their lives and of the world in which 
they live. 


Total War and the tinman Mind 

THE, cave-man has appeared once more, and stands scowling 
outside his cave, club in hand, ready to defend himself against 
any danger. The elements, hunger, cold, his fellow-men, even 
his own sons, all are his enemies. But he is a man a^ well as 
a savage, and there are dangers within him, too dreams, 
doubts and fantasies, mysterious forces, good and evil spirits 
which fill his soul with awe. 

Like his primitive brother, twentieth-century mam is en- 
gaged in total war with his environment. Obsessed as he is by 
fear, he can find rest nowhere in the World, The mateiid basis 
of his life has gone, dwindling away through a series rf great 
economic crises. Even the air he breathes, and the sky to 
which he turns his eyes, are no longer safe, for the winds may 
carry poisonous gases, and the sky rain down bombs, Treaties 
are broken, promises are not kept, and the very gods are no 
longer the same. 

For all the fanaticism in the world today there is much 
inner uncertainty and scepticism. Men are too much engrossed 
in the confusion of events, too much swept away by anger and 
passion, to be concerned with their inner sanity. The eternal 
-questions, "What is happening, what is going to happen? 
Against whom must I defend myself next?" occupy their minds 
to the exclusion of all else. 

Civilized man in these days is conscious only of two alter- 
natives: to defend himself or to submit. He cannot use his 
abilities of mind and body to develop himself, for he is obliged 
to live in a constant state of preparedness. What price must 
men pay for this premature sapping o their powers, for this 
constant burden of fear? In the foregoing essays there are 
many references to the rule of fear in our lives. It is a fact that 
where a man cannot succeed in overcoming fear, his inner life 
is permanently warped,and the aggressiveness which he evokes 
to combat fear ends by consuming the individual himself. 


This is not mere theorizing, but a plain statement of fact. 
We know already how the first world war affected men's minds, 
and dealt blows from which we had not fully recovered when 
we became involved in the present conflict. The first mass 
reactions to the horror of total war could already be observed 
in 1917, when on all fronts there appeared signs of apathy 
and senseless panic. Spiritual disintegration was accompanied 
by physical ills, and all kinds of epidemics broke out which 
by 1918 were raging more fiercely than the war itself. The 
nervous system of men was disorganized; rare diseases, such 
as encephalitis, made their appearance. There was an immense 
need for pleasure and debauchery, for alcohol and drugs, by 
which men sought to escape from themselves and from their 
own consciousness of guilt. The purification rites by which 
savages wash away the stains of bloodshed, took, in twentieth- 
century Europe, the form of a longing for all that is poisonous, 
alf that is inimical to reality. The sense of individual responsi- 
bility disappeared, and has never entirely returned, while feat 
left its traces in the neuroses and the apathy which were 
typical of the years between the wars, with the consequence 
that men are no longer able to think and act as individuals, 
and cannot deal adequately with the problems that they have 
brought into being. .Is the world, one wonders, to be lost to 
us because we cannot control our psychological reactions? 

From the above analysis it follows that one of two things 
must happen. Either the world is lost through the vicious 
circle of this self-destroying process in which fear inspires 
aggressiveness, aggressiveness brings a sense of guilt, and 
guilt seeks an outlet in more aggressiveness, or the fundamental 
instinct of self-preservation must arrest this headlong rush to 
destruction. The one hope for humanity is that in the end men 
will become conscious of the enormous wastage which war 
erxtails, and that the poverty which war brings upon the world 
will force them to desist from fighting one another. In terms 
of the earth's age man's existence as a thinking and a progres- 
sive animal has been of brief duration. It may be that we are 


at last reaching the stage when, surveying the course of 
history, we can draw some lessons from it which will help us 
to shape our own future. 

In basing our hopes on the fundamental laws of human life 
we display neither optimism nor pessimism. The human mind 
will move in chaos until such time as it finds release through 
its own instinct to create order and discipline. For the impulse 
to live is stronger in us than the impulse to die, and all neuroses 
wiH in the end be overcome by the vernal force of life.